Posts Tagged ‘16th-c doublet’

What I want to do vs. what I need to do

Portrait of Katheryn of Berain, "The Mother of Wales," 1568, by Adriaen van Cronenburgh

Portrait of Katheryn of Berain, "The Mother of Wales," 1568, by Adriaen van Cronenburgh, Wikimedia Commons.

In one of my insomniac moments last night, I fantasized about making a new black 1570s gown to wear to Much Ado About Sebastapol. *sigh* There are many things stacked against that happening, the biggest being I’m critically low on time, and second, I’d need a new pattern draft, ideally fitted by someone better than me (eyes Sarah). Of course, I do have 6 yards of suitable black wool in The Stash, & while it’s earmarked for another project, well, it’s not like black wool is irreplaceable.

Perhaps a more reasonable option is to retrofit my existing black 16th-c. doublet. It’s a little snug, but not at all unwearable. I’d have to make new sleeves of black wool. Then I could wear it with the black wool skirt in my closet, & the ensemble would look like a black wool gown quite satisfactorily. I’d also like to make a partlet to wear with it — I started one this summer with faux blackwork and ruffs using Mom’s sewing machine. Would also need a new hat, as my current black hat is a few decades later than MAAS, & I don’t want to look *too* fashion-forward.

Is that doable? Well, more so than making an entirely new gown, certainly.

However, what I really need to work on is all the merchandise for Fockett & Cox‘s storefront (for display purposes only; our storefront is for educational purposes, not vending). We need purses, coifs, & ruffs. I designed some embroidered cuffs for Mom to make that I’ll tack onto vintage gloves, but I still have to draw out the second set of patterns for her.

So there’s much work to be done before Sept. 17th on that account before I consider a new gown…


Late 16th-Century Doublet

I first wore the outfit at the SCA West Kingdom October Crown. I wore the doublet with a cartridge-pleated skirt made of purple tone-on-tone stripe drapery type fabric that I’d made a few months earlier (for an outfit that never panned out). And the weekend before this event, I made a tall-crowned hat inspired by the ones popular from about 1590 to 1620s and beyond. I built a wired buckram frame and covered it in pleated black wool. The trims are purple and black ostrich feathers, plus a purple ribbon rosette accented with a big gold brooch.


I’ve worn the outfit many times, including the doublet with a black wool skirt or the doublet without sleeves and with a blackworked linen shirt. It’s a versatile and attractive piece of my SCA wardrobe.

Lady Violet Ruthvene at 12th Night 2010

Lady Violet Ruthvene at 12th Night 2010


No sleevil here

Not the I’m bragging, but I don’t see what the fuss is about sleeves. They’re pretty easy. My sleeves probably don’t look that good to anyone else, but I like them. They go together fine, no big stress, not like the strum und drang I hear from so many other costumers when it comes time to make and insert sleeves.

9 times out of 10, I scale up a sleeve diagram from Hunnisett. I’ve even scaled up sleeves from Arnold (the only thing I’ve successfully scaled from that crazy wack-a-doodle!). But Hunnisett’s sleeves just work, and they’re usually the right size too. Or close enough to it that I can make a couple mocks and get it right.

Then someone (probably Kendra) pointed me towards a great article in Threads (and its part 2) about pattern grading so I could scale up the diagram and then easily adjust the size and get the first mock to fit me with less trial and error. Another article from Threads about fitting sleeves helped refine the method. Yeah, they’re all for modern patterns but the tips work for any era that has, oh, arms.

I usually make one-piece sleeves, as opposed to the two-piece / top and bottom sleeves, which works well for 90% of what I’m doing. And when I’m making some fussy little style with crazy poufs and designs, well, that all sits on top of a one-piece sleeve anyway.

(This ramble brought to you by the fact that, yes, I finished up the sleeves for the 1580s/1610s doublet last night. Laced them in, they look spiffy. Now the thing needs a metric fuckton of trim to be truly done!)


My so-called late 16th-c. doublet progress

So much accomplished and it just doesn’t look like it. *sigh* Spent all weekend sewing, and, go figure, it would be the last, icky-hot weekend of summer too. But the result looks like actual clothing and is in a wearable state.

First, there was a lot of fussing with the lining. And that darn neckline. I tried the bodice on over a shift and corset, and realized that, yes, the neckline really did need to be lower. The high “U” neck looked neither historically accurate nor attractive, so big ol’ broad scoop neck it is.

Much more flattering and resembles the 1610s V&A miniature, and also the neckline in these effigies that look 1580s-90s (but are oddly inscribed as 1559!).

My neckline won’t be as low as this effigy of 1589, but that seems awfully revealing. I often wonder if some of those were real or there’s artistic license going on, especially in the early 17th century. Paintings can show an amazing amount of flat chest, like, of questionable anatomical realism without having nipples popping! But that’s a research topic for another day :-)

Then I worked on the tabs, which I’d patterned out and begun sewing during the week. Drew the sleevehead wings too. Started the fiddly sewing of these things in, which required a combination of machine- and hand-sewing. At the same time, I inserted lacing strips into the armscye (Mom graciously made sets of lacing strips with the eyelet hole stitch on her fancy embroidery machine, whew!).

I’m a little annoyed, ok, more than a little annoyed with this project. It’s been surprisingly difficult for something that looks so basic, now that it’s essentially finished. But I have to remind myself that this is, I believe, the very first garment I have patterned all by myself. I draped the muslin on my corseted dressform all alone, nobody helping me. I didn’t start with any kind of commercial pattern. I didn’t scale a pattern or diagram up from a book. Nobody draped this on me either.

Sarah came along later and changed the shoulder seams and the side back seams a little. But I did 95% of the pattern myself, which has never happened before. And it’s a good, solid, basic, pattern that I can use for many things. So yeah, not thrilling but practical. And a good learning experience.

Next up, sleeves. Easy-peasy — I’m making the basic Elizabethan sleeve from Hunnisett, which I’ve made several times before. Although I couldn’t find my scale-up of the pattern, drat, and had to make another one. Done and fabric cut. But it’s dinner time.


Duh! it wasn’t meant to be 1580s

unknown woman, 1605-1625 (image source: V&A Museum)

unknown woman, 1605-1625 (image source: V&A Museum)

This doublet that’s been giving me such problems isn’t what it seems to be. I’ve had images in my head, but I’ve been using a pattern (well, an idea of a pattern from PoF3, the 1580s doublet) that’s based in the wrong time period. Doh! The neckline and sleeves I’ve been fantasizing about are all about 30-40 years later than the base I started with.

It’s not a 1580s doublet. It’s meant to be a 1610s bodice/jacket, rather like this, tho’ you can’t see much of it and the V&A debates what’s really going on in the portrait. However, let’s not trust what the website description says because that could well be incorrect, even by people who work at the V&A. See: March 2009 trip and investigation into a certain “Mary Queen of Scots” portrait that was painted over in the 19th century — no info about that on the website, but the paintings expert I talked to gladly pulled the file and showed me the 1930s and 1970s X-rays to prove it.

Elizabeth Vernon, 1618 (image source: Wikimedia Commons)

Elizabeth Vernon, 1618 (image source: Wikimedia Commons)

Anyway. This miniature on the right has the neckline, sleeves, and center-front opening I wanted. Likewise, this 1618 portrait (on the left) elaborates on the hanging sleeves I was imagining, plus the trim designs. This 1619 gown has similar lines, just look past the slightly gawd-awful fabric choice (hi, I’m wearing a sofa!).

Yeah, yeah, I’m pushing the envelope of the SCA period. But man, I love these shapes! Gotta have ‘em.


Tweaking in wool

After all those muslins, it was time to cut some real fabric. I had a nice mid-weight black wool for the outside (it’ll be interlined with something sturdy and lined with something soft later; I may add boning at the center front to keep the closure tidy and straight too).

I sewed up the sides but not the shoulder seams because I wasn’t sure of the placement. I thought they should be a little towards the back, but how much? I’d left it on my dressform for a few days when, lo and behold, Sarah happened to visit. I asked her advice on the fit and shape.

In about 10 minutes, she raised the shoulders, pinned them back, and pinned in the side seams a bit. Wow! Made quite a difference. My front and back pieces were essentially the same, but the side backs (which I’d admittedly had a lot of trouble with) and the shoulder placement were all new and changed everything for the better.

She also chalked in suggestions for a waistline and neckline, since I hadn’t gotten to that. The neckline idea is the maximum high neck, so I can make a pattern based on that and then cut away for different options later.

And yes, I left a bunch of extra fabric at the center front. I like to do that so I have enough to fold back for whatever kind of closure I end up doing. Always easier to cut away!


Drafty in here (har har)

Pattern-drafting is not my strong suit, but I don’t live near enough to, well, anyone it seems for me to easily beg/barter that service on a regular basis. Thus, I had to start on my own for to make this 16th-century doublet.  *sigh.*

I was inspired by what I could suss out of the seam lines in Janet Arnold’s female doublet for a young girl c. 1585. It’s not entirely clear what’s going on in the front — there is a curved front closure but also trim angled along the middle front, and they loved to trim along seams in this era.

More importantly, when I laid muslin over my corseted dressform, I needed to add some kind of seam in the middle front to get any kind of flatness. That’s just the way the fabric and the body went. (FYI: I’m using effigy-style stays here (made by the fantastic Sarah.)

I ended up with essentially a princess seam from shoulder to garment hem. Seven pattern pieces total. Fit ok on the dressform and on me after, oh, a wastebin full of muslins to tweak the side and back pieces in particular.

At this point, I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do with the neckline — either a 1610s-style low neck or an earlier high neck, perhaps even a sexy 1570s Italian-esque folded-back look. Also, the waistline is entirely unfinished, not sketched in at all. I left all the pieces super-long so I could draw in where I wanted it to go later.

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