St. wearing girdle book, Bosch15th century girdle book

for note taking and other uses

by Cynthia Virtue aka Baroness Cynthia du Pré Argent

I made one of these, and it's way cool, based on one that I saw at the British Library.  Later, I found that Barbara Gordon has done some work on these and webbed it -- be sure to check out her article!

picture of a girdlebook with wool cover  To wear it, the knot slips under your belt from below, until the knot is over your belt, which keeps it from falling out.  To use mine for taking notes, I can either leave it in the belt, and just pick it up and start writing (I write in it "upside down") or I can take it out of my belt easily and write.  I've used it to remember names, allegedly bright ideas I have at events, interesting clothes or art, my lines in a play, class notes, and other little things.

This is how I made mine -- it's a notebook instead of an already-written item; in the middle ages, they were most often daily prayer books or other important works.

You will need:

Here's the difficult part, but you probably already know how to do this.

When you were in school, did you ever have to cover your schoolbooks with brown paper wrappings, to stop wear & tear on the covers?  With this, you do exactly the same thing.

The only differences are: that you tension the wool slightly as you go (so that it is snug, you keep it "folded" by basting the fabric, you try to reduce bulk at the folds (wool being much thicker than paper) and you leave the bottom edge long.

If you want to carry a pencil or pen between the spine of the book and the wool cover, leave it a little loose.  I have a loop in the "tail" of the cover that I hook a pen with a clip over.  It's modern, but you can't see it unless I'm using it.

Once the book is sewn into the cover, like a slipcover, you tie a knot in the free end see that picture at the website that Avenal posted.

You can then either sew on ribbon ties to keep it shut, or a button with a long loop, which is very convenient, as you can do it up or undo it one-handed.

The original was covered in leather, and of course had a medieval binding.
All material © 1999 Cynthia Virtue Email Author with comments
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