Fellow researcher – the Friesian Frock Girl

While trawling the internet looking for ways to make a waffenrock for my partner I came across Holly Stockley’s research site on renaissance clothing from the Low Countries.

I love how she has analysed dress styles from the different parts of the Low Countries, thereby acknowledging that the places we refer to as Holland and Belgium were actually numerous Duchies, Counties and regions and towns.

She has collated images and ideas from the regions of:

I found her site to be well-written, researched and thought-out, adding to the work I’d previously done in this area. I’ll be returning in future for ideas on future clothing of this era.

Period maps

Map of the county of Flanders by Matthias Quad...

Map of the County of Flanders (Image via Wikipedia)

While I was randomly wandering around the internet yesterday I stumbled on the Old Maps Online site. It’s lots of fun.

It’s an interactive database of maps published between 1000 and 2010. You can choose your preferred time-frame by using sliders to narrow down to a specific decade(s), and then move a square over a modern open-source map to give the geographic boundaries.

Any maps which show that geographic region for the chosen time-frame and region are shown on the right hand side of the screen.

Here’s the subset of maps for the Low Countries between 1460 and 1610

It shows maps of Flanders, Zeeland, Limburg, Brabant and the “minor germanies”. Now you too can know the location of places referenced in works of the Low Countries. “Duke of Brabant? He probably lived in Eindhoven, and wow, there was a big lake there in the late 1600s!”

More information on the project from flowingdata.com.

A gollar

The engravings of Lucas van Leyden contain a number of women wearing gollars over their square-necked dresses. All these gollars vary in style and decoration, however they all exhibit commons trait, they are square cut, sit under the bust line and close at the front.

These are some examples of van Leyden’s gollars:

selection from a Lucas van leyden print
selection from a Lucas van Leyden print
selection from Lucas van Leyden pint
selection from Lucas van Leyden painting

and one picture sketched by Durer during his trip to the Netherlands in 1521:

sketch of a dutch woman by Albrecht Durer

Unfortunately, except for the picture of the man wearing a gollar these engravings and sketches give us no idea of how the gollar may have been constructed and from what materials. The textilier hausrat gives an example of a sumptuary law from Nurnberg which states that: “the middle class sumptuary laws allowed for gollars fo high value material as not seen for other outer and over clothing”. Gollars made of silk and damask are then described. Although Leiden is in the Netheralnds and not near Nuremburg, in the absense of sumptuary laws from the Netherlands for this time, the laws of Nuremburg can help in our understanding of what was worn.

photo of me wearing the gollar I madeMy gollar is made from a heavy felted maroon wool, lined and edged with black cotton drill. It does not have a collar and is closed by three buttons and three finger-looped cords. It most closely resembles the 1st picture. It pins at four points under my arms, which is something I have to remember to warn others of when they get a hug while I’m wearing this gollar. This is quite a secure way of attaching the gollar, assuming that the pins are inserted through the fabric properly, I have worn my gollar for long evenings and not lost a pin. I originally believed that all Leiden gollars were open at the sides, based on the 1st picture above, however after looking at the Durer sketch and considering the matter more thoroughly I cannot see why they would be open at both the side and the front, so will probably make any future gollars with side seams.

photo of how the gollar is pinned to my dress

These are two photos of my completed gollar. The image on the right shows how it is done up with pins under my arm, and also that the back and front are not exactly at the same level. This is a design fault as I think they should be approximately the same height. It is both too long in the front and too short in the back. Also I think as I put it on for these photos that it wasn’t properly adjusted so the front is lower than normal. The white dots at each corner are pearl headed pins. The important thing to remember about this is that because there is so much fabric in the bias edges the pins need to go through the wool part, or they just won’t fix to the dress properly.

Addendum, 20 August 2004:

I just took a closer look at this engraving by van Leyden, “Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene in the garden”. The Magdalen has a bow under her arm almost exactly where a tie would be placed to join the two edges of the gollar she is wearing. This should be reasonably easy to add to my gollar and will mean that I don’t have to get someone to pin me into it everytime I want to wear it.

selection from a print by Lucas van Leyden of the Magdalen


Zandel-Seidel, Jutta, “Textiler Hausrat” (trans. Katherine
Barich), available from the GermanRenCostume list at Yahoogroups

The Curtain Frock

This dress is based on two figures from the painting by Gerard David, “Virgin among Virgins”. The cut of the dress is based on the woman in green and the fabric’s pattern on the two figures in red and gold brocade. For the purposes of the Dutch costume discussion I consider this dress to be a Flemish dress from the transition era, and not specifically of the style that I am refering to as Dutch. However the cut is similar and this is the first dress that I made in any related style so it does deserve a spot on this website.

It is a very unstructured style, with no apparent corseting. Support is probably achieved through a tight fitting kirtle. I use one of my 15th century Flemish kirtles to give support under this dress as, based on illuminations from the period, this style of kirtle was still being worn.

The bodice is square-necked, with a V cut in the back. This was based on a “The Deposition” a painting from the workshop of Gerard David, where you can see the brown partlet showing at the back of the dress. The dress laces at the centre front. This was done because if you look closely at the bodices they all overlap in the front. To recreate this smooth front with no visible lacing I made some strip with eyelets in them at appropriate distances and then sewed them onto the lining of the bodice so they cannot be seen when the dress is done up. The lacing strips take most of the stress on the front of the dress. The smooth front is achieved by sewing the centre front seam closed after lacing, which my Laurel has patiently stitched for me everytime I’ve worn this dress. The bodice is lined with drill and canvas to give it some structure however there is no boning or corsetry as it is not necessary in this style of dress. The back is cut in one piece, with a false seam to mirror the front seam and also to allow a bit of shaping through the back.

I chose red and yellow brocade, based on two figures in the original painting (reproduced above)

Photo of the finished curtain dress

Me in the Curtain Frock at Rowany Festival

Each pattern piece is, as far as possible pattern matched. This was achieved for the front bodice and front skirt seams and for the wheel pieces in the skirt.

The sleeves for this dress are cut as a shallow bell sleeve, with an angle change at the elbow so the sleeve falls nicely. The sleeves are set into the shoulder. They are lined with the same drill that lines the bodice, and could be turned back, however the “gathered” look of the sleeve or a slight turn at the cuff seems to be more appropriate based on this painting. Other pictures from the same era have the sleeves turned back to the shoulder, so it is probably a personal choice.

The skirt is cut from a pattern from Mistress Gabrielle. The skirt is unlined, although eventually I would like to put a deep gard on the inside hem of the skirt to protect the fabric when walking. Skirts are not commonly turned back in this style so it is difficult to determine if they were lined. I think they probably were as almost every picture shows a lined bodice and sleeves and a picture from 1493 of a similar style has a slight turn up at the back which shows the skirt lined in fur.

The skirt is roll pleated onto the outer layer of the bodice and the bodice lining is then hand stitched onto the other side of the this seam so that the waist seam is completely enclosed. The skirt has a small train and it is only slightly longer than floor length at the front so that I don’t trip over it when dancing.


Black Partlet

This style of dress almost invariably has a black V-necked insert which covers the chest, shoulder and back area. From an examination of paintings this item sits under the dress as many times a fur edge from the bodice can be seen sitting over the top of the black insert. This item is most likely a partlet which sits in between the underdress and the overdress, providing warmth and modesty for this wide square necked gown. It may also hide the circular neck of the kirtle and may be a remnant of the V-necked burgundian style of the 1400s. My partlet is made out of black velvet, bag lined with a pink cotton. It is patterned from my gollar however it is seamed under the arms and shaped through the shoulders and pins together in the front.


Hovetcleet is the Dutch word for headcloth which is the best way to describe this hood. It is made from a large rectangle of heavy linen, which is actually too heavy for a hat, a truncated henin and and velvet band. These are all held together with the aid of judicious pins. The front of the hovetcleet is wired, however I think it would be more correct to starch it as there is a sag behind the wire that is not seen in portraits from the period.

The use of a truncated hennin to give the hovetcleet shape comes from the two pictures on the right, a woman from the foreground of a painting done in 1493 and the female donor from “Triptych of the adoration of the Magi” by Oostsanen. Since making this hovetcleet I have found an illumination from the Romance of the Rose showing a wife who has had her hovetcleet ripped off, which confirms that a black band and a truncated hennin are the items worn under the hovetcleet.