Lederwams/Leder Goller: The Leather Vest/Jerkin/Doublet Jacket of Coolness

A Lederwams or Leder Goller (leather vest) is a quintessential item for a Landsknecht (German mercenary soldier), judging by how often I see men wearing them in woodcuts. And they look pretty cool, I must admit. I mean, come on … it’s a leather jacket! With slashes!

Lederwams seem to exist to provide some protection to the fighter, although I don’t believe it to be considered armor as the leather seems lightweight. Or possibly the lederwams was used as protection for clothing. I suspect both reasons. From a personal standpoint, autumn is coming and the weather will turn cooler, so lederwams would be perfect at all the upcoming events we will attend (8 SCA events planned in September-November!).

One of the fascinating things about the Lederwams is that they appear to be made of a single piece of leather which is then secured (sewn?) in some fashion at the sides and then closed in the front with a leather cord. This is both appealing and scary, from a construction standpoint. It means I need to create my own patterns, fitted specifically for those whom will wear them (Gregor and my son), but that once I have the patterns, it should be easy to make!

I came across an informative post on the GermanRenCostume on YahooGroups by Robert from st-max.org about how to drape a Lederwams. It’s all text and the directions are a bit vague, but I think I get the general idea. The post does discuss leather weights and types, which I find quite helpful. It indicates a 3-5 oz. leather is best, and that the leather should be softened in some manner if too stiff.

So, sometime soon (hopefully), I will attempt to drape a lederwams pattern, and I’ll take photos as I do it for the benefit of anyone else out there who wants to learn how to do it! In the meantime, here are several more woodcuts of lederwams for reference purposes:



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