Rothenburg Style

We spent the last two days in Rothenburg (ob der tauber) which is the indisputably best preserved medieval town in Western Europe or maybe even the world (?). It was a favorite place we visited every year, delightful for adults and always magical for children.

The doorways are sized perfectly for children. Here’s a sample of sizing evolution in action (below).

We saw lots of cool things I’ll show you later when I get back but thought I’d post photos of clothing related stuff now. I have decided that neckline darts have either never gone out of fashion in Germany (I think Germanic peoples tend to be egg shaped) or they’re headed for their way back in. Here’s a few shots seen from store windows. Also note these are raglans and most have gussets. Yeah for gussets!

We were in this boutique owned by the Night Watchman -a whole other story- and I found these jackets by a DE named Ganz who’d been manufacturing from Rothenburg. The Nightwatchman said his stuff was too pricey for tourists so he went under. Check out the juncture of the finish of the front inside lining, hem and facing. I rest my case.

Here’s a couple things I saw out and about. Check out how this shoulder dart has been rotated into the back armhole (below).

One of the things we did was go to the “criminal museum” in Rothenberg. Frankly, they were scraping for material. Rothenburg was never known to exact tortures on its citizenry. Most of the material was borrowed from private collections from other places and not to say it wasn’t interesting because it was but it was closer to a museum of law and order. Here is the only thing I saw at the museum that was a real torture to my eyes, a mono-butt extraordinaire.

Heh. Here are some other interesting clothing related items from the museum. A chastity belt. Ever seen one of these?

I think these would be painful to wear. And smelly. Who’d want you after wearing one of these a couple of days anyway?

One funny category of devices we there were for shaming offending parties in public. Shaming devices seemed to be common (I could have used some of these yesterday). These were typically metal masks, caricatures and shamed the wearer for talking too much, gossiping, telling dirty jokes etc. We found one shaming device designed for bad musicians (below). Off to the side is an illustration showing how it was typically used. The device was locked around the neck with hands affixed in the device. These days, we just give bad musicians larger recording contracts.

Another thing that was common in the middle ages was enforcing dress codes but I imagine a lot of you historical clothing buffs already knew that. Here’s a depiction of a woman who is wearing clothing outside her class. The city council of Rothenburg enacted these standards in 1639 and prescribed penalties which entailed cutting off trains and long sleeves in public.

Here’s a photo of a silver embroidered bag, originally from Nurnberg. No big deal here but see the close up of those little “chain” stitches. These are actually bullion stitches! Perhaps ten or twelve stitches to each side of every little chain. Amazing work.

And last of all for today’s threads related tour, here’s some doilies that were custom made to fit these horse’s heads. They were the only team to have these, none others did. I thought the knit socklets fitting over their ears was a riot. I supposed it helped with flies.

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  1. Valerie Burner says:


    You should go on vacation more often! This post is a riot! I actually love neckline darts, as I have a very small neck, and everything gapes in front and back. Gussets do seem like a good answer to another problem you’ve mentioned in your book, and one I’ve always pondered over: lifting arms without lifting entire jacket. (I always wondered who did the clothes on The Weather Channel- theirs do pretty well when they lift their arms.)

    Yes, the mono-butt is disconcerting to those of us over 20, and actually, I think chastity belts were worn for months at a time (with locks) while husbands went off to war (or wherever). Wonder what happened if he didn’t come back???

  2. vespabelle says:

    I guess the people were smaller back then, but I can’t imagine anyone being able to poop through that tiny heart shaped hole!

    It seems way to pretty to be used for denying pleasure!

  3. Eric H says:

    According to some of the material in the museum, chastity belts were also used when the women were traveling through high-rape areas. I wonder if there were maps with that kind of thing marked on them? Or if there were high and low seasons for that kind of activity?

  4. Valerie Burner says:

    Oh- I forgot all about the most important part of your post— the nameless tutorial facing/lining juncture. You are SO right. It looks so good and sturdy- very professional. I wonder if he saw your tutorial?

  5. J C Sprowls says:

    LOL! Your case is rested. And, I’ve conceded.

    I presented the option for a bottom pleat or a clean finish (like the one pictured). The client liked the clean finish, more. So, that’s what we’re doing. After I see it through production, I may go back and revise all the lining patterns in stock.

  6. Ottoline says:

    Those doilys are old fashioned fly “masks” and yes, they do help with flies and bugs! Plus they are pretty cute to look at! Some are ears only, some are face masks with ears and some are face only.

  7. Nyla Poser says:

    Did you see the daily reenactment of Mayor Nusch and the attacking war captain drinking liters of wine to determine if Rothenberg survived or fell to the attackers? I am a decendent of Mayor Nusch (my maiden name is Nutsch) and when I presented my ID card at the local achives, not speaking a word of German, I was quickly admitted and led back to the achival books for the family Nusch. I had complete freedom there to browse through the volumes, took many photos of family crests and it was magical. One of the photos I took we later used when my Dad had the headstones made for my Mom after she died.

    There’s also an annual play in Rothenberg which depicts this drinking contest. Or at least these used to be. My visit there in July, 1984, was planned so that I could see that, but the actors were delayed by 2 days and I was on a schedule and couldn’t wait. But the town square bit happens twice a day, I think.

    While there, I walked the entire circumference on the wall surrounding the city and I remember the museum also.

    Thanks for this remembrance of a great trip of my own.

    Thanks for posting these photos and your impressions.

  8. cjjones17 says:

    Like the pictures. Thanks for taking all of us along on your vacation. It has been fun. The first picture of Rothenberg reminds me of the newest version of “Lord of the Rings” the small doorways fit too.

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