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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Past Projects · Mid-1500s Flemish Working Class

Three years ago, I wanted to make a new outfit for our church's annual Reformation Day Faire.  I wanted something that fit into the 1500s, but didn't have any more specific requirements for myself than that.  I came across Jen Thompson's great write-up about her mid-century Flemish working-class outfit and was enthralled.  I needed one!!  I was making costumes for the security guys at the Faire that year too, and there happened to be enough wool left to use for my gown, although the skirt lining required extensive piecing! :-)  I relied on Jen's information (which I'm having a hard time finding now!) and Drea Leed's research almost exclusively.  One of the aspects I loved about this project was being able to understand all of the layers involved, so that when I look at Aertsen and Beuckelaer's paintings now, they make so much more sense!  It's always so neat to see how each era has it's own quirks and to try to discover the secret to getting the garments to look like the paintings.

The gown (brown and tan) is made of wool, and the kirtle (green), smock, partlet, and caul are made of linen.  The smock is the first layer and can be seen at the sleeves and peeking out of the neckline.  Next is the fitted kirtle, which is sleeveless and laces down the back.  After that comes the gown which laces down the front with hidden eyes and twill tape.  Finally, the bodice is topped with the partlet which fastens with hooks and eyes at the center front, but also has ties under the arms.  Additionally, I made detachable sleeves which attach by eyelets and lacing, but since the weather has never been cold enough the past 3 years, they haven't had an outing yet. ;-)

The front half of the skirt is a half-circle, whereas the back is a pleated rectangle.  The entire skirt is lined in wool and then the front flipped up to expose the lining and the kirtle's skirt.  The front skirt is held in place by a length of twill tape tied securely around my waist.

Pleated frill on the partlet

My hair is twisted around the head and then braided and taped.  The caul is just big enough to fit over the taping securely, but I like to use a few judicious pins for ease of mind. ;-)

·Pictures by Kathryn·


  1. Ah, it's first medieval gown which I love! :)

  2. Ooooooh, this is so lovely! I wish we had a Reformation Day celebration... that looks like OODLES of fun. My family usually just celebrates by watching the 1950's Martin Luther film. :D Okay, I'm not going to fill the whole comment with sighs about how much I adore this outfit... but I will just say that I'm very partial to medieval and 15th-16th-century working-class clothes, and this one is just ducky. :D

  3. This dress is indeed lovely! You'll never believe this, but my family and I came to your Church's reformation day a few years ago, and I remember you wearing this dress! I remember being completely awed by your handiwork then, and I still am. You are certainly an amazing seamstress!


    The Middle Sister and Singer

  4. Lovely outfit! I think those working-class Flemish styles are so charming...I've been wanting to make one for years (since I started costuming, in fact!), but hardly ever have 16thc events so I've no excuse to!

  5. Hello there, I found your blog through Kathryn. I new you two looked so familiar at the OSR and I couldn't put my finger on it. I was scrolling through Kathryn's post and tada!!! Here you are. :)
    Love your outfits,my sister creates costumes also,so I enjoy seeing others hard work as well.
    Beautiful outfit! Oh,and I totally Adore your new kitchen in your previous post!

  6. Thanks, ladies! :-)

    Brigid, that is so funny! If you come again, please be sure to say hello! I'd love to get to know all of you. :-)



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