Table of Contents
- Lists of Suppliers →
- Suppliers- General →
- Suppliers- Silk →
- Suppliers- Leather and Hide →
- Suppliers- Fur →
- Suppliers- Linen Cloth →
- Suppliers- Wool Cloth →
- Suppliers- Hemp Cloth →
- Suppliers- Mixed Cloths →
- Suppliers- Bone, Wood, and Horn →
- Suppliers- Glue →
- Suppliers- Dying →
- Suppliers- Raw Fibres →
- What’s New →
Imitating historical clothing can be difficult enough without the struggle to find appropriate materials! The collapse of speciality shops has been balanced by the growth of online retail, although knowing the right keywords can be a challenge.
Because I am living in Austria, and many previous lists are written by and for Americans, this list focuses on suppliers east of the Atlantic. Each online store is marked with its location so that viewers can avoid ones whose warehouse is too far away to bother with shipping a common product. In shops written in other languages, I give the names of important products next to an English translation. One day I would like to produce a German version of this list, to help people searching for
Zulieferer für historisches Schneidern or
Stoff und Zubehör für historische Kleidung but that sounds a lot like work.
The research for this list was carried out in 2016. Like all things on the Internet, it will inevitably decay as companies go out of business or change their online stores (or simply sell the last bolt of a particular fabric). I have posted it here so that before it decays it may be useful to someone other than me.
A list of updates is at the bottom of this page under What’s New.
All of these resources were mined to create this page.
– Legio XX: Suppliers of Roman Equipment and Materials http://www.larp.com/legioxx/supplrs.html (oughties vintage, anything useful for recreating a Roman soldier’s kit)
– La Cotte Simple: Resources http://cottesimple.com/resources/ (anything related to late medieval clothing)
– The Original Reenactor’s Market http://reenactorsmarket.co.uk/ (physical market in the UK, Phil Melhop recommends)
– Bronze Age Center Bazaar → Suppliers of Period Materials thread http://z8.invisionfree.com/Bronze_Age_Center/index.php?showtopic=1434 (compiled between 2005 and 2010)
– Wienische Hantwercliute http://wh1350.at/en/library/links/groups-vendors-and-sources/ (focused on urban life in the 14th century AD)
– Masters of Linen http://www.mastersoflinen.com/eng/celc/annuaires/page:22 (dealers of hemp and linen in Europe)
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– Wm. Booth, Draper http://wmboothdraper.com/ (Eastern US: cloth, notions [Nähzubehör])
– Carolina Calicoes http://www.carolinacalicoes.com/ (Eastern US: cloth)
– Fadengerade http://de.dawanda.com/shop/fadengerade (Germany: Luna Loft quilt batting)
– http://www.agil-online.de/ Various natural materials
– Hedgehog Handworks http://www.hedgehoghandworks.com/ (California: thread, notions)
– Traditional Materials http://www.traditionalmaterials.co.uk/ (UK)
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Silk Thread, Lace, and Braid
– Au ver à Soie Distributors List http://www.silk-thread.com/our-silk-and-you#in-europe (Europe: silk thread and embroidery floss/buttonhole floss)
– Naturtuche http://www.naturtuche.com/ (Germany: silk thread)
– David Thatcher, Yoroishi http://yoroi.uk/shop/ (UK: Makes silk braid [odoshige, odoshi-ito] for lacing Japanese armour and has been promising to get the price below the current GBP 3.50-3.60/meter as he learns the art and installs more machines)
– Sartor.cz (Czech Republic: see under Haberdashery or Kurzwaren)
– Tombolo & Disegni http://www.tombolodisegni.it/ (Italy: linen thread [filiati in lino] and Au Ver à Soie products)
A German firm called Gütermann carries silk thread and silk buttonhole floss/Strickseide, but many stores just carry their cotton and polyester products; Cucirini tre Stelle (Italy: seta bozzolo reale), Coats Cucirini (Italy, article 9126), and Au Ver à Soie (France) are some other brands available in the EU.
– Almerlin https://almerlin.de/exklusive-stoffe/ (Germany: specialized in fancy patterned silks and plain silks; some of the former incorporate artificial fibres)
– biostoffe.at http://www.biostoffe.at/Seidenstoffe/ (Austria: one kind of beige silk called Ahimsa which is made without killing the moths)
– Dharma Trading Company http://www.dharmatrading.com/ (California: specialize in importing affordable but well-made silks to the US and in fair trade values)
– Historicarum http://www.historiskarum.se/medeltid_english.htm (Sweden: Fancy brocades)
– naturstoff.de (Germany: silk thread, see below)
– puresilks.us (India and US: a wide variety of silk, synthetic, and mixed textiles)
– sartor.cz (Czech Republic: see below, mostly lighter weights and heavy brocades)
Specialists in cloth for furniture, cushions, curtains, and bridal wear sometimes carry heavy weights of silk which are appropriate for some historical clothing but difficult to find in fabric shops. In German-speaking countries, they often call their wares Heimtextilen.
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Suppliers- Leather and Hide
Hide products pose many problems. Most leather today is tanned with chrome, producing a distinctive white edge in contrast to the coloured face. Historical leathers were tanned with tannins, preserved with smoke, fats, and oils, tawed with alumn, or left untreated. Technical terms often refer to a mix of the source for the skin, the treatment, the place of manufacture, and the intended use. Because few people have long experience with both originals and modern substitutes, it is difficult to know which modern substitutes might cause problems and which can be ignored. Chrome-tanned leathers have a bad reputation for rusting steel, and you can find more opinions about particular modern products if you dig into books and talk to leatherworkers, but even if they use the same words, they may not always be talking about the same things. Vegetable-tanned leather (vegtan, pflanzlich gegerbte Leder, pflanzgegerberei) is relatively straightforward to obtain today, but was rare in many cultures.
Parchment (Pergament) for writing on is relatively easy to obtain, although some modern parchment is designed for covering drums. I saw a dealer in parchment and vellum who even carried purple-dyed parchment in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 2013.
Modern dealers often split leather into layers, producing hides which are fuzzy on both sides rather than having a fuzzy flesh side and a smooth skin side (suede, velour). I am not aware of any sources for this technique before the 20th century, although I am very ignorant about hide products.
Similarly, modern artificial dyes produce different and more durable colours than traditional mineral and plant-based dyes.
– Joseph Clayton and Sons (Chesterfield) http://www.claytonleather.com/ (UK: said to offer the thick white alumn-tawed and oil-cured leathers which went by the name “buff” in Europe and its colonies from the 16th to the 19th century)
– Karl Robinson, craftsman http://www.karlrobinson.co.uk/ (UK: Leatherwork, wool cloth with natural dyes, leather with natural dyes)
– Gerberei Zeller http://www.gerberei-zeller.ch/ (Switzerland: tanned leather, recommended by a shoemaker in a recent issue of JRMES)
– Geberei Schatz http://www.schatzleder.com/ (Austria)
– Gerberei Schlüßlmayr http://www.dergerber.at/ (Austria: offer a kind of leather cured in fish oil called Sämischleder/Sämischgerung … I think there is a similar English term involving “Finn(land)” but I forget it)
– http://www.biostoffe.at (See below)
– http://www.lederversand-berlin.de/ (Berlin: Wide selection of types of skin but almost all of it is chrome-tanned; they also have lambskins for lining clothing)
– http://www.lederhaus.de/ (Germany: offer plant-tanned cowskin [Blankleder], lambskins, sheepskins)
– http://www.lederhaus.at/ (Salzburg, Austria: seem to want you you email them or visit their shop)
– Lederfabrik Gebr. Kilger http://www.kilger.de/ (Germany: website under construction)
– Traditional Tanners http://www.braintan.com/ (Oregon, USA: brain-tanned deer, elk, moose, antelope, and buffalo hides)
– Ambleside Sheepskins http://www.amblesidesheepskins.co.uk/index.php/ (UK: sheep- and reindeer skins)
– Geschichtspark Bärnau-Tachov http://www.geschichtsparkshop.de/de/Lagerleben (Germany: alum-tawed goatskins made by tanners focussed on the 9th through 13th centuries)
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Furs were very popular in many cultures due to their superior insulation and beautiful glossy sheen. They still have very attractive properties in extreme cold. Tasha Kelly-Mele has a handy article on furs in late medieval Europe at http://cottesimple.com/articles/fur-primer/
Feh = gris = grey winter pelts of the northern squirrel
Fuchs = fox
zobel = sable = black marten pelts (Martes zibellina)
For convenience I have organized these by the typical price for medium-weight, tabby-woven [in Leinwandbindung] linen cloth. Fabric varies in quality more than most consumer goods, so beware of the cheap deal. Also remember to check the width of the bolt. A few products, especially hand-woven and luxury fabrics, are still sold in widths closer to 50 than 150 cm/20″ than 60″.
The weight of linen is often expressed in grams [per (square) meter] or ounces [per (square) yard]. Since 1 oz = 28.35 g, and 1 yard = 0.90 m, then 1 oz/yd2 = 28.35 / 0.902 = 35 g/m2.
Weights above 9 oz or 300 g are hard to find (especially if you want solid cloth not something with large holes like burlap/jute/Sackleinen). Some useful keywords seem to be
Bauernleinen, schwerer Leinen, Leinen-Segeltuch.
Some products do travel around. I have seen what I suspect is the same linen in a tabby weave, lime-coloured with a slightly uneven texture, around 240 g/m2, sometimes described as “May green,” at the local house of discount fabrics, on sartor.cz in Prague, on linumo, aktivestoffe.de, and stoffkontor.eu in Germany, and on fabrics-store.com in the USA.
If you just want to check a few sites: Siulas and sartor.cz have a good range of light and medium-weight linen (100-300 g/m2) in a variety of weaves. Heavier weights are harder, but Wm. Booth Draper in the USA, naturtuche.de, and naturstoffe.de carry them. Siulas and sartor.cz carry linen thread.
Linen: Up to EUR or USD 10 per meter or yard
– Ikea stocks linen cloth under their Living Room/Wohnzimmer → Meterware … one name is AINA. EUR 8/meter. (That seems to be about the price for medium-weight linen in the cheaper kind of fabric store in Austria, and the samples I have seen at IKEA are not impressive).
– http://fabrics-store.com/ (USA: Specialist in medium-weight dyed and undyed linen and linen-cotton, provide one photo, thread weights in tex, cloth weights in oz/yd2, thread counts per inch in warp and weft). USD 8/yard.
– Sartor.cz http://www.sartor.cz/ (Czech Republic: linen and linen cotton cloth, Chinese and Moroccan silks, silk and synthetic brocades patterned after medieval originals; linen-silk and cotton-silk mixed fabrics under Silk Fabrics → Silk Blends; also a small selection of wool cloth; silk thread, silk embroidery floss, linen thread; will weave silks to order. Provide one photo with ruler, cloth weight in g/m2. Old fabrics often fall out of stock, and new ones appear; swatches available). Around USD 10/meter
Linen: Roughly EUR or USD 15 per meter or yard
– Siulas https://www.linenfashion.com/ (Lithuania: huge variety of weaves, weights, and colours in linen and linen-cotton, light and medium weight [100-245 g/m2]; 500 g spools of linen thread in various colours and numbers of strands). Around EUR 12/meter.
– Linen Tales https://www.linentales.com/ (Lithuania: linen cloth [plain weave, densely woven, natural coloured/bleached/dyed or stripe pattern, light or medium weight 150-245 g/m2] and 2mm unbleached linen cord. Provide one good photo, cloth weight in g/m2). Around EUR 15/meter.
– LinenMe https://www.linenme.de/ (Germany: wide variety of linen in plain weave, herringbone twill, and diagonal twill in the 200-300 g/m2 range but horrible interface; they have a floral damask pattern for EUR 12/m https://www.linenme.de/stoffe/gemusterte-stoffe/leinen-damast-stoff-linum-natur#details and ‘sponsored content’ at http://linenbeauty.com/ and http://huckaback.co.uk/ ). Around EUR 15/meter.
– Linumo http://www.linumo.de/Linen-fabrics-c-12.html (Germany: reasonably wide selection and give weights, widths, and good photos). Around EUR 15/meter.
Linen: Roughly EUR or USD 25 per meter or yard
– Naturtuche http://www.naturtuche.com/ (Germany: cloth dyed to imitate natural dyes, hemp linen wool and silk thread and yarn; recommended by living-history people). 20-odd Euros per meter.
– Anita Pavani Stoffe naturstoff.de (Wide range, well organized with descriptions and swatches [Stoffmusterkarten], expensive; they have linen herringbone twill [Leinen-Zwilch] and diagonal twill [Leinendrell] and a linen/wool blend Liwolltwill under Leinen → Leinen Weiß and heavy linen canvas [Segeltuch] in white or natural coloured, plus a wide range of medium-weight dyed linen, small selection of short lengths of Güterman brand linen and silk thread under notions [Zubehör], hand-woven nettle cloth (!)). On the order of EUR 20 per meter.
Linen: At least EUR or USD 30 per meter or yard
– http://www.celticlinens.com/ (New York: expensive!) USD 30-120/yard.
– Thomas Ferguson Irish Linen http://www.fergusonsirishlinen.com/shop/index.asp?TypeName=By-the-metre&TypeID=13&CatID=8 (Ireland: another dealer in fancy patterned Irish linens)
– http://www.biostoffe.at/ (Austria: Linen, hemp, wool felt, linen-cotton canvas, leather scraps all dyed and undyed … but expensive! One kind of white silk which is made without killing the silk moths (!) Raw cotton, kapok, wool for stuffing under Füllmaterial alongside modern quilt batting [Baumwollvlies]. Supplier of the linen is http://www.vieboeck.at/ in Upper Austria; they have hemp twill [Köperbindung] and tell you which linen has had the fibres shortened [cottonisiert] which is convenient for modern factories but weakens the fibres). On the order of EUR 50/meter.
– Archäotechnik textile fläche https://www.facebook.com/textileflaeche/ (Germany: textiles woven by hand to order, Jeroen Zuiderwijk recommends)
– http://bio-leinen.de/ (Germany: Carries a wide range of weaves and weights of unbleached linen cloth, including a 2:2 Panamabindung). EUR 30-40/metre.
Linen- Thread and Fibre
There are a number of different standards for thread weights. English count (Ne) and Metric Count (Nm) represent the length of thread in a given weight, so higher numbers are finer. Denier and tex measure the weight of a given length of thread, so higher numbers are coarser. Coats Industrial has definitions and formulas. Buying thread and judging the colour, strength, and weight in person is ideal but not always possible.
– Flachs und Leinen http://shop.flachs.de/ (Germany: unspun flax [tow, Hede, Heide, Flachs])
– http://www.diespindel.de (Germany: under Fasern they have unspun flax and raw cotton [Rohbaumwolle])
– Royalwood, Ltd. http://www.royalwoodltd.com/menur.htm (Ohio: waxed Irish linen thread, great for scale armour)
– Herts Specialist Fabrics http://www.classhistory.co.uk/Herts%20Fabrics/store/index.php?route=product/product&path=56&product_id=379 (dyed, 2-ply Irish linen thread; some other fabric and Güterman products available)
– Naturtuche (Germany: linen thread, see above)
– Siulas (Lithuania: long 500 gramme spools of linen thread for machine sewing, see above).
– Sartor.cz (Under Haberdashery or Kurzwaren, see above)
– Tombolo & Disegni http://www.tombolodisegni.it/ (Italy: linen thread [filiati in lino] and Au Ver à Soie products)
Although wool or part-wool coats are popular in the EU, and remainders of good British and Italian cloth can be found, appropriate wools can be surprisingly hard to find in fabric stores.
– Access Heritage http://www.militaryheritage.com/wool.htm (Eastern Canada: 100% wool melton 60″/150 cm wide in a wide variety of colours; woolen/silk/synthetic/metallic braid)
– Karl Robinson, Dyer http://www.karlrobinson.co.uk/Dying/index_dying.php (UK: medium and heavy-weight woolens 30″/76 cm wide dyed according to 16th century recipes, see above)
– Wooltrade.cz www.wooltrade.cz/en/ (Czech Republic: diamond twills, herringbone twills, fulled cloth)
– Archäotechnik textile fläche (See above)
– Naturtuche http://www.naturtuche.com/ (See above)
– Herts Specialist Fabrics http://www.classhistory.co.uk/Herts%20Fabrics/store/index.php?route=common/home (UK: small range of fabrics including grey melton and nettle cloth (!))
– Hand Woven Wool http://handwovenwool.com/ (Czech Republic: undyed wool blankets with a tasseled fringe, woven in the Middle East, herringbone twills, diamond twills, and other special weaves available)
– http://www.diamantweber.de/ (Germany: specializes in a weave with a diamond pattern)
– Moondance Colour Company http://www.moondancecolor.com/category/Fabric-Yardage-Cuts/c36
– Murphy, Sheehy, and Co. Ldt. http://murphysheehy.com/ (Dublin, Ireland: Irish linens and woolens including handkerchief linen and tweeds, website is rudimentary but selection on-site is said to be fabulous)
– Tudor Tailor https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheTudorTailor?section_id=12946895 (UK: small range of imitations of fabrics used in 16th century England, including light wool in a 2:2 twill weave for hosen, and frizado which has a fuzzy raised nap)
– Yorkshire Fabric https://www.yorkshirefabric.com/ (UK: All kinds of quality woolens for suits and coats)
– Cheryl B. recommends that those in need of cloaks or winter chitons try importers of Indian garments marketed as prayer shawls, dushala, and lohi which are often made of cashmere wool, 54-60″ wide by 90-110″ long, and fringed. Companies like Exotic India (USA) and Maple Clothing (Canada) carry them.
– Wood-n-Woven http://www.wood-n-woven.com/order.html (Southwestern US: hand-woven wool cloth and bands)
– Woolknoll http://www.wollknoll.eu/ (raw wool)
– Hats by Leko http://hatsupply.com/woolfelts.htm (USA: two rough shapes of compressed felt ready to be blocked into many different styles of hat
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– http://www.biostoffe.at/ (Austria: Romanian hemp cloth)
– http://www.naturstoff.de/ (Germany: Dyed and undyed hemp, hemp canvas )
– Naturtuche (Germany: Heavy undyed canvas under Hanfcanvas, see above)
– Hemp cord is available in most craft and hobby stores and many grocery stores in the EU
– I am told that dealers in rope bondage (shibari) supplies sometimes carry soft hemp rope suitable for hanging scabbards, hanging travellers’ bags, wrapping packages, etc.
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Suppliers- Mixed Cloths
– Waxed cloth (cerecloth, serecloth, oilcloth): Period Fabrics http://periodfabric.com/ (waxed cotton only)
– Linen-Wool: Anita Pavani Stoffe Liwotwill
– Cotton-Linen: fabrics-store.com (light-weight only), Siulas (under Linen Fabrics → Linen-Cotton Fabrics). Most dealers in linen carry this. 100% cotton velveteen [Baumwollesamt] is one possible substitute for the cotton-linen blends with a nap which were used in the middle ages and early modern period under names like Fustian, Fustagno, and Barchent. Aktivstoffe.de is one brand with an online store; stoffe.de has a range of more expensive cloths under the title
Dekosamt aus Baumwolle.
– Cotton-Silk: sartor.cz (under Silk Fabrics → Silk Blends)
– Hemp-Silk: Anita Pavani Stoffe Hanf-Seide 2 (65% hemp, 35% silk).
– Linen-Silk: Sartor.cz (under Silk Fabrics → Silk Blends) and distributors for a brand called Kawen Stoffe in Germany which offers a 75% linen/25% silk blend in white and other colours (Stoffecke in Nürnberg had some in early 2017).
– Wool-Silk: Allmerlin.de tiefschwarz-nachtblaue Seiden-Wolle (85% silk, 15% cashmere)
Note that modern mixed fabrics are often made differently than historical ones. Historically, it was common for linen to form the warp and another fibre to form the weft, but different arrangements may be used today. A staffer at Siulas says that their cotton/linen has a cotton warp and linen weft.
Modern mixed fabrics are marked with fibre content by percentage of weight, but archaeologists usually give the warp material and the weft material. Textiles with something like 52% linen 48% cotton often have a cotton warp (!) and a linen weft. ↑ back to top ↑
Suppliers- Bone, Wood, and Horn
– Eisenbrand Exotic Hardwoods http://eisenbrandhardwoods.com/
– http://www.naturallist.com/ (Foraging in the North-Eastern US eg. birchbark, birch tar, …)
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The glues known as hot hide glue and rabbit-skin glue in Canada seems to go by the names pearl glue, Knochenleim, Hautleim, Warmleim, Perlenleim, Hasenleim (rabbitskin glue), and technische Gelatine in Europe. They do not seem to be as universally known amongst woodworkers as I would expect, although they are still used for musical instruments and furniture restoration. Traditional Materials and amazon.de carry them.
Casein or milk glue seems to be known as Kaseinleime in German.
Suppliers- Raw Fibre for Stuffing
– http://woolery.com/spinning-fibers/cotton-fibers.html (Kentucky, USA: raw cotton)
– http://www.biostoffe.at (Austria See above, raw cotton, kapok)
– Pemmi Products https://www.etsy.com/shop/Pemmiproducts/items (Aachen, DE: kapok wool, and probably raw cotton, sheep’s wool)
… some of the above could be added here …
Some people use quilt batting (USA/Can), wadding (UK), Vlies (DE/AT), or ouatine (FR) as a substitute for loose fibres. Versions which are mostly cotton, silk, wool, or bamboo from companies like Hobbs (USA), The Warm Company (USA), Pemmi Products (DE), and Vliesline (DE) are available in most fabric stores, but keep in mind that they usually contain a polyester scrim to hold the natural fibres in place.
Warning! Etsy’s automatic translation renders Bastelwatte as “handicraft cotton wool” or “cotton wool.” Like English <craft felt>, the German term implies polyester not cotton. Read the description carefully to avoid disappointment!
2016-12-11: Added wooltrade.cz and this section
2017-01-16: Added hopes for a German version to the paragraph beginning “Because I am living in Austria …”
2017-02-16: Added Yorkshire Fabrics and more references to Karl Robinson, fixed some typos
2017-03-03: Added Kawen Stoffe, aktivstoffe.de, note on barchent/velveteen/Baumwollesamt
2017-03-05: Added Tudor Tailor, notes on linen thread and silk thread, added some suppliers mentioned elsewhere to the sections on linen and silk thread, moved one clause from section on Naturtuche to section on Naturstoffe
2017-04-07: Added Hats by Leko and Hagal linen thread
2017-04-16: Added Access Heritage
2017-04-20: Added note on the way that the same linen can appear in many online and offline stores, and a ‘short list’ of suppliers. Added linumo and bio-leinen
2017-06-21: Added Ambleside Sheepskins
2017-07-07: Added Geschichtspark Bärnau-Tachov
2017-11-07: Fixed unbalanced HTML tag around dekosamt
2018-03-08: Added Traditional Materials
2018-03-12: Added a note on suppliers of glues
2018-04-01: Added details about products at
2018-04-03: Added a short section on fur
2018-08-21: Added a source for fringed rectangular cloaks
2019-02-16: Added more entries under Raw Fibres