The Pros and Cons of Bliauts

Bliat complete

When I wrote Out of Time, I hadn’t realised it was going to be just the first book in a series. I was on a tight budget at the time, but wanted to celebrate the completion of the book by having a small party to launch it. And, of course, I wanted to dress the part. I’ve always loved dressing up, but never had much opportunity, and finally, I had a good excuse.

Because I had no idea I would ever write more than one novel, I didn’t go to great expense. I found myself a sort of pseudo medieval gown which made me feel wonderful, and my husband, very obligingly dressed up as Richard the Lionheart, again, in something inexpensive and not very authentic.

This is how we looked.



However, I have now published a second book in the series, A Promise to Keep, and am working on book three, Blossom on the Thorn, with several more books planned. Having done a few book signings and book talks, including a couple at local libraries, I realised it was now time to get serious, so I ordered some wool and found a tailor who felt able to complete something a lot more authentic for me. I had tried online, but they were expensive, so doing it this way wasn’t going to cost any more, and it would give me something that was original.

My tailor, Ross Heeley, found a pattern which would suit, and we got to work. Here I am at the trying on stage.

bliat 1


At this point, I began to realise I had a problem. The wool is extremely heavy. I suffer from M.E. and scoliosis, and I wouldn’t realistically be able to wear such a garment for very long. So, we made it a little lighter by removing the middle of each of the three gores inserted in sides and back, but left the front one in. Result! Even just losing that amount of material has made a huge difference. It’s still heavy – you should feel the weight of those sleeves! But it is wearable.

And, it’s warm. You’d be surprised just how warm it is. Which will be great if I’m doing an appearance in a cold hall. However, if I wear this to a book signing in a warm library, it is just possible that the heat will render me down to a very small spot of grease on the carpet. I imagine woollen gowns were wonderful inside draughty, cold castles, but with today’s central heating, I’m now beginning to wish I could have afforded silk. Unfortunately, I will have to sell an awful lot more books if that particular dream is to come true. It looks as though, when I’m appearing anywhere warm, I may just have to dig out that old fantasy gown after all. Unless anyone has a second-hand silk bliaut to sell me?

Amazon Author Page

About Loretta Livingstone

I write, and I want to tell people about my books. That's why I started this blog. It's all very new, so I will probably make mistakes, but - here I am! Blogging!
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8 Responses to The Pros and Cons of Bliauts

  1. April Munday says:

    I don’t know what you’re tailor’s charging you, but you could do worse than look at Prior Attire, who makes historically accurate clothing from many periods.

  2. Well, I’m not a re-enactor, so it doesn’t have to be completely authentic, but I’ve spent all my money on this at the moment. And hers look just as hot and heavy. Until I can afford silk, I think I’ll have to swelter, haha.

  3. I’m a re-enactor, and I focus on the end of the 12th century—bliauts are the bulk of my wardrobe! I recently finished an all-silk bliaut, and while it’s only a few pounds of material (for the ten yards I used) it’s as warm as the wool/poly cote I also wear. Silk is a marvelous insulator. You may want to consider fine linen for a “warm weather” bliaut, when you have the opportunity; while it’s not completely authentic (linen was rarely, if ever, worn by the upper classes for outerwear at the time), it will breathe well and weigh much less than even a fine wool.

    • Hi Sabine, I confess, I would love to see your wardrobe, although it would probably make me dribble with envy.
      I did consider linen, but because I suffer from ME and scoliosis, I have trouble ironing, and I know linen creases horribly. Haha, I think that might have been a mistake. And I wonder if the wool I chose was heavier than some. Because I can’t get out much, I had to buy the fabric online, although my tailor lives locally so could do fittings easily. But yes, when I sell enough books to allow myself another treat, I think something lighter and finer will be high on the list. Although, since my husband also dresses up and accompanies me to speaking engagments and signings, he needs to be rigged out next.
      And now, I’m going to hop on over and take a look at your blog. You sound a most interesting lady. 🙋🏻

      • I admit, I don’t usually iron anything…just because I’m lazy. 🙂 Linen-rayon blends don’t crease so terribly, and if you can hang your garments, most of the creases fall right out. Now I’m curious about what else is out there for easy-care fabric, though!
        And I’ll need to investigate your books, of course.

      • Aw, bless you, thank you. I hope you enjoy them. There are only a couple set in the twlefth century at the moment, but I’m working on book three.
        I’ve been visiting your pages – you have some wonderful pieces there.

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