Transition era wrap gown – HSF#3 Pink

20140224_191252Every year at Rowany Festival I have the same problem on day 2 – I want something I can throw on quickly to go about camp to get coffee and make breakfast. Often I don’t want to be fussed with lacings or tight closures. Thankfully this era had a solution: the wrap gown.

General description of the style

There seem to be two styles for this comfortable gown. A true wrap style akin to a traditional Chinese wrapped garment (here’s one that Sarah from Mode Historique has made), and one with a soft V shaped neckline which either butts in the centre or has a small overlap. They are probably a hangover from the houpelandes of the mid 1400s. One thing that both styles have in common is their minimal depiction in the visual record and the sense that these were dresses worn from comfort.

The sleeves all seem to have a bell cuff of some description. They can be a small cuff at the end of a tight-ish sleeve, or a medium sized bell sleeve as seen on many gowns at the turn of the 16th century.

I have, of course, created a Pinterest board for this style of gown.

This Project

I had three images in mind for inspiration and guidance on design details:

Detail of Virgin Amongst Virgins, Gerard David.

Jean Hey, known as the Master of Moulins (active Lyon and Moulins, c. 1480-c. 1505). Madeleine of Burgundy Presented by Saint Mary Magdalene, c. 1490

And here’s the finished result:

Wrap Dress Montage

But where’s the ‘Pink’?? It’s fully lined in a dusky rose pink cotton:


Just the Facts:

The Challenge: Pink

Fabric: Outer – 100% fulled wool in a gorgeous chocolate brown, Lining – Dusky rose pink cotton, Interlining – bamboo quilting batting

Pattern: Self drafted, as an amalgamation of a pattern from Hunnisett which worked in the black on black on black gown, and a pattern taken from a corded bodice that I have which has been used for this UFO (coming soon to a HSF challenge near you).

The skirt is cut in 4 panels which sweep around 60 degrees from centre front or centre back. The skirt is self drafted, but the idea was taken from The Queen’s Servants. Sleeve pattern is also self-drafted but is based on a sketch in The Queen’s Servants (not one of the patterns in the sleeve grid at the back). It’s a simple trapezoid with a sleeve head.

Year: late 1400s

Notions: metal hooks

New techniques tried: hand worked bars that the hooks catch on. So dainty and lots of fun to make.

How historically accurate is it? Cut and pattern: I think so, to the best of our knowledge; Fabrics: lining and interlining are not; Construction: major seams are machine sewn, everything else is handsewn. So a 7/10 feels about right to me

Hours to complete: Too many to count. Rough estimate is 20 hours so far.

First worn: To take some photos, but I’m sure sure that really counts 🙂 First official wearing will be Rowany Festival over Easter.

Total cost: Outer Fabric ~ $75AUD. Interlining ~ $10AUD, Pink cotton was a gift, hooks were bought years ago.

The Quest for the perfect Hovetcleet (HSF#2: Innovation)

This is part 2 of the Hovetcleet Challenge, and my entry in the Historical Sew Fortnightly’s 2nd challenge: InnovationPart 1: Hovetcleets and Oorijzers covers the history of this piece of headwear and some of my theories and assumptions on its construction. This post is about testing some of those theories.

Part 3 will be a longer research paper, with lots of images.

Version 1

hovetcleet-small I made version 1 in 2004, to go with my first square-necked gown. This is a very early style, similar to the two images above.

It was made of a heavy, opaque linen with a wired front over  a long truncated hennin. I loved at the time (and wish I still had it) but I also know it can be improved. The wired front in particular is incorrect as it created concave gaps behind the wire rather than the flat line that is seen in the images.

There’s a more extensive discussion of this version, including photos of the inside of the hovetcleet in my (forthcoming) research paper.

Version 2

The Plan

After looking at lots of portraits and doing some research into material culture, I wanted to build Mark II do the following:

  1. Build a shorter hennin, or a small cap OR
  2. Use a white headband and a fake bun and plaits combo
  3. Use a lighter-weight linen for the veil
  4. See if I can create the heart-shape through starching
  5. Make ooijsters to get the sharp points at the cheeks
  6. Play with folding the back of the veil to achieve a variety of styles

What I accomplished

Starch creates heart- shape: CHECK!

Light weight veil, band and fake bun work really well to give the correct shape: CHECK!

I started to make some oorijzers, but realised l didn’t need them with this starching method. I’ll be building Mark III to play with this item later this year. I also need to nail the folds in the back of the veil. Perhaps in time for Rowany Festival. Still, this drape looks very pretty.

Just the facts

The Challenge: #2 Innovation 

What’s the innovation? Structured white headwear that is a break from previous draped veils and caps. By the 1550s this item becomes the structured and decorated attifet and eventually becomes part of the highly varied Dutch folk costumes of the 1700s +1800s. – interesting article link here, and/or photo montage-

Fabric: White linen, medium weave

Pattern: None – it’s a rectangle and a headband

Year: Worn 1490-1540. This version closest to the style of the 1520s

Notions: Pins, hook and bar. Does a fake bun count as a notion?

How historically accurate is it? This is a working theory, so it’s difficult to tell, but I think I’m most of the way there. Could be improved with a better headband (making sure it doesn’t slide off my head), and proper folds in the back of the veil.

Hours to complete: I stopped counting, probably around 4-5. Most of this time was taken up with hemming and using  a pulled thread method to ensure my veil was square to the warp and weft of the linen fabric before I cut it.

First worn: For this photo shoot. First formal wear will probably be for an event in March.

Total cost: ~$45AUD. Linen at $22AUD a metre, but this is less than a metre. A few cents for the cotton tape, and for the hook and bar. $25AUD for the fake bun.

Construction notes below the jump
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Hovetcleets and Oorijzers


Detail of Triptych of Jan des Trompes, 1505, Gerard David.

The iconic and most easily identifiable item of female Netherlandish clothing is the heart shaped structured veil, or hovetcleet, seen in many paintings of the time. Most especially in the works of Gerard David and Joos van Cleve.

I’ve been looking at these for years. I made a version back in 2004, and I am in the process of making taking photos of a better version (for the second challenge in the Historical Sew Fortnightly-HSF).

This article is a short introduction to hovetcleets and oorijzers ahead of my HSF#2:Innovation post. I have a pinterest board dedicated to this style of headwear, and will post a much longer research paper with a number of images later this week.

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