Duello Gloves, (rapier/fencing gloves)

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Your Wardrobe Unlock'd: The costume maker's companion
What you will need:
  • A pattern
  • Two to Four-ounce (2 mm) leather: kid, pig, Chamois, or suede. Make certain that there is a stretch in the piece you choose. The cheapest of them all is chamois, it is currently sold in most auto car wash sections of stores, not recommended for fighting. The best for fighting will be kid.
  • Muslin or light weight interfacing (the cheap variety that is not fusible)
  • Strong thread, such as silk thread, button thread, button twist or leather sewing thread for the leather gloves
  • Lightweight thread and hand sewing needles for the muslin mock up.
  • For Heavy Leather use glovers needles, for light weight leather handsewing needles called "betweens", or sharpen a size 10-sharp quilter's needle to make three sides
  • A punch for your holes in the leather

There are a wide variety of patterns out there, most are not period but are functional for the purpose that you need in rapier combat. This article will go into what is historical with a bibliography at the end for you to find your own sources.

The best source that I have found for period glove patterns was a French book call Le Gant. You must know enough French to read this. Unfortunately for most of us who only read English all of the historical documentation on gloves for the periods that we need are in German, French, and Italian. The English did not get into documenting glove pattern making until the 17th century as they were in competition with the other countries and handed down the tradition by word of mouth. There is documentation that guilds were made as early as 1106 in England but no patterns were documented that I can find yet. The current glovers guild in England is just now beginning to release notes and patterns dating as far back as the coronation of Mary Queen of Scots.

What I have found is two sources that state quite clearly that gloves and gauntlets were use in dueling. Throughout George Silver's musings in his 1598 Paradoxes of Defence and his 1599 Brief Instructions, including the rare (and almost indecipherable) insert section he continually refers to poniards and gauntlets as a form of fighting much like Florentine or rapier and buckler. Poniards - A dagger typically having a slender square or triangular blade. He also relates that Italians used this form of fighting a great deal and lost most if not all of their bouts. Sigh, so that is where my ancestors went.

The books I am finding in English are translations from the French books. Experience with such translations concerning costuming, French to English translations, I have found that there is a great deal of textile information lost. The terms just do not translate literally, most translators depend on such terms to be literal.

Please note that this pattern is not from one complete example but rather from what I chose from the various pieces available. I found several paintings of gloves and put together the pieces that matched the portrait or glove example best. All sources are at the end of this article.

If you do not have a glover's sewing machine then I highly suggest that you make them by hand. You can also use any of the following either as the closing or decorative stitch:

  • A Running or stab stitch is the simplest and is the most
  • Whipstitch
  • Round stitch
  • Triple stitch
  • Flat stitch
  • Saddle stitch
  • Knotted Blanket stitch
  • Cobbler stitch
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Baronessa Chiara Francesca Arianna d'Onofrio
Franchesca V. Havas

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