It occurred to me a while back that, since I’m making a blackworked coif….it might be a good idea to have clothes to wear with it? Possibly?

I am 100% trash for people doing gentry/merchant/yeoman class clothing well, as so many people seem to aim straight for the nobility without realizing the time and money that takes to do properly. Mylar does not a court dress make. For reenactor inspiration check out Extreme Costuming and Wasted Weeds.

My period inspiration was all over the place– I was aiming for British 1570sish, but since there aren’t many depictions of that I ended up looking at a lot of Italian and Flemish paintings as well.

My plan was to start making a peasant outfit from my base layers (kirtle, shift, apron, plain coif) first, and then add layers overtop to

A) wear in LONDON in OCTOBER at a CASTLE for Drachenwald crown and keep me from freezing and

B) up the social class a little bit.

The complete plan is as follows:


Kirtle (plus stomacher thing for under the gown)



Fitted gown

Wool partlet


The waistcoat will be a changeable silk, but the rest is wool and linen. The great thing about this is that these layers can mix and match, although if I want to wear the kirtle and gown without the waistcoat I’ll need a stomacher panel as the kirtle opens at the front.

It shouldn’t, probably, but I hate lacing myself into side-lacing clothing.

I was going to co-opt the Chemise of Doom from nearly a year ago, so the first thing to work on was the kirtle.

I bought 4 yards of the B&T dark madder worsted also nearly a year ago, which seemed perfect for a kirtle given the preponderance of red petticoats and kirtles. I used the same linen artist’s canvas for the structure that I used for my black Spanish 1520s dress. The front is two layers quilted together at the bias to one another, while the back is just one layer.

The logic here was that this should keep the canvas from stretching in the front, but since I was planning on using a pattern with the straps cut on the bias I thought the stretch might be useful for the back and straps.

Speaking of which, instead of buying an actual pattern for this time period, I modified the Tudor Tailor Henrician gown pattern to be more 1570s-y…. mostly because I had it already.

On the 1520s dress I had a lot of problems with the interlining and fashion fabric not lining up properly. It’s not that visible since it’s, well, black, but I wanted to avoid that this time.

My solution to this was to padstitch them together temporarily. The problem with this becomes evident when it’s flipped over.

This wool is REALLY stretchy, so it bubbles and wrinkles on the outside. So I started over, padstitching from the outside this time so I could stretch and smooth the wool

Ok. That’s better.

The fashion fabric is wrapped around the interlining and herringbone-stitched down. Then I added lacing rings up the front for the first real try-on.

It’s not awful but it’s not great either– the straps are too long, the lacing gap isn’t straight, and I’m wearing my 14th C shift which just isn’t right. I am pleased with the silhuoette and how the point makes it look like I actually have hips.

I shortened the straps a tad and added synthetic whalebone at the CF to help keep everything straight. The pieces end below my bust….mostly because the extant bodies of the time do that.

The skirt is 3 panels sewed together selvedge to selvedge, which is then folded over and cartridge pleated into the bottom of the bodice.

ALL THE PLEATS. Turns out 180″ of fabric pleated into 24″ is…dramatic.

Look! I have hips! This is pre-synthetic whalebone, so there is still some wiggling at the CF.

Kirtle is now done (other than the hem)(my mom skipped town before she could help me pin it) so it’s on to the rest.


Stupidly expensive pink linen (I went to Britex….) gets turned into a large rectangle that is hemmed all the way around. Then I make a strap of double-fold tape that is whipped to the top of the rectangle. Cool. Apron.

(Oh….I forgot to mention. All of this is handsewn using silk or linen thread. Cool. Onwards.)



Look, ok, I killed my hands doing this. I’d left it with the neckline gathered into the collar bands, so I needed to hem the neck ruffle, cartridge pleat it, set it into the collar bands (as one would a ruff), and finish the sleeves and hems.

I probably should have put cuffs and ruffles on the sleeves but I was so done. And my hands hurt.

See the tiny pleats? Yeah, those got stitched down on both sides. About 1mm apart. That’s a normal XF dressmaker’s pin. I zoomed in a LOT.

This slowed my progress down a lot because I couldn’t work for three or four days after. Mistake. Don’t be like me. I think something is still wrong with the alignment of bones in my left wrist.

BUT, this is enough for PHOTOS, right? RIGHT?

Ok. So.

The shift really shouldn’t have that much volume. Both in the sleeves and the body. It would be PERFECT for Spanish 1520s (gee. I wonder why) but it shouldn’t be that poofy. That, combined with the lack of coif (the unfinished coif is actually the white thing I’m holding) make this look a little Italian-fruit-selling-peasant-lady. Having additional layers will definitely help tone that down, particularly sleeves. Also finishing the coif.

That being said it’s pretty good! I love the color scheme, and I’m so glad I found evidence of salmony-pink aprons. The apron color did not photograph well sadly. It’s not that pink.

The gown will be a deep madder/woad purple and the waistcoat a changeable apricot/olive green silk, and I think the rich, deep colors play off one another well.

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