Off to a bumpy start

As is often the way you announce something and then hit a bump in the road.

For any of you who tried to visit the site 2 weeks ago and got an error message – we’ve fixed the problem and are now back up and running.

We’ll also be a bit slower than expected on new posts for the next little while. Margaret has had an unexpected house move which is slowing up her writing. There’ll be a number of descriptions to fill in her projects page for the next few months and then the awesome collaboration material will begin!

Flemish Market Girl (v.2) a la Van Cleve

Peasant Wedding by Martin Van Cleve

A few years ago, this painting started making the rounds of online costuming circles. It’s part of a series of six paintings in the Koninklijk Museum Voor Schone Kunsten in Antwerp of a Peasant Wedding by Marten Van Cleve, sadly only on Flickr.  This is the last in the sequence, and this is the bride. Why the groom(?) is ducking out the window, I can’t say. Unfortunately, in every other image the bride is wearing an overgrown. So there are no images of what this dress would look like laced up. It does, however, propose an interesting potential construction method for the wide laced “Flemish market girl” outfits painted by Aertsen and Beuckelaer. (I have a Pinterest board for this style.) So I gave it a try.

Open Laced Van Cleve side by side

Since this was a proof of concept outfit, I made it by disassembling the over-gown from my original market girl outfit. (I no longer have any pictures of it, but it was made per the instructions on the Elizabethan Costuming Page.) The top is made of olive flannel because I was only able to salvage the skirt and the back of the bodice from the original dress. The skirt kept its original burgundy lining. I cut two slits into the skirt, tacked on the placket to extend the flap, and pleated the skirt back on to the new bodice. To wear it, the flap is simply lifted and held into place while the bodice is laced over it. It is not pinned.

My version is not meant to be a faithful reconstruction of the Van Cleve outfit, but rather an attempt to use this concept to achieve the look of the Aertsen and Buckelear paintings. The Van Cleve dress appears to have no waist seam, and once laced it is probably entirely red. The market girl paintings have a clear waist with pleated on skirts. The skirt and bodice are occasionally different fabrics, and the placket behind the laces is almost always a different color than the bodice. The flap-placket and the bodice opening in the Van Cleve painting appears to be squared off. My placket is a trapezoid and the bodice opening is somewhat V-shaped.

Van Cleve front and side

The bodice is supportive, although less so than my usual front laced dresses. The placket stays in place once it is all laced up, but keeping it from buckling while it’s being laced is a bit of a pain. I am not particularly happy that the seam at the bottom of the placket and the waist seam do not match up. Still, it is a possible construction method for anyone attempting to make a “market girl” outfit in a single layer. When the apron and partlet are worn, the issues with the waist are covered up, and the result is a recognizably “Flemish” outfit.

Van Cleve Comparisan


Margaret in a large ruff and white cap.

Margaret in a large ruff and white cap.

Hello, everyone.   If you’ve been reading this site for a while, then you will notice that I’m a new face.   My name is Margaret, or Bridget Walker in the SCA, and I’m very excited that Karinne invited me to join her on a site I’ve read and admired for years.

I joined the SCA in the early ’90s in a fit of Irish enthusiasm.   My early efforts were generally generic Celtic or English, with some, shall we say, creative choices.   I got more serious about costuming in the early 2000s and slid into the Low Countries as a “Flemish Market Girl” by way of Drea in Leed’s work on the Elizabethan Costume Page.  From there I started dressing like a woman from one of Pieter Breughel’s paintings, which served me very well through three pregnancies.   Finally, I returned to the market genre paintings, this time looking at the buyers, rather than the sellers.

Currently, I’ve been exploring the genre paintings and the formal portraiture from the 1560s up until about 1620, when the fashionable silhouette changes.   Most of my work focuses on the one thing that really makes the clothing of the Low Countries stand out: the headdresses.   Karinne and I met through the Facebook Elizabethan Costuming group entirely due to our mutual enthusiasm for the huik.  I have also been experimenting with the little starched veils and caps that go under the huik and are seen in very good detail in the portraits.

Margaret in a pot-lid huik.

Margaret in a pot-lid huik.

I’ve put the handouts for the classes I have taught in the SCA in our “teach” section.   One of them is a general overview class on all of the wonderful variety in Flemish head gear.    The other class is focused on how to make and starch a linen cap, as well as how to dress the hair to go under it.   Both classes included a lot of hands-on examples, so neither handout is meant to stand alone.   My next few posts will expand on them.  I’ve also added a gallery where you can see some of my previous projects.  I hope you enjoy them.

2015? 2015!

After 8 months of no updates I suppose an update is well over-due. Also, welcome to the new site!

That’s the first update – sewing time turned into site creation time. I’m really excited about this new guise, with a co-author (yay!) and the ability to do more interesting things now that we’re self-hosted. For instance, I’ve worked out how to do galleries, so that’s made some of the resources more interesting, and better designed. You can see them in the updated Leiden style pages, as well as the gallery of all my projects and all of Margaret’s projects.

Men’s clothing

two men in 15th century clothing standing in front of a tent

At La Prova Dura tournament in Adelaide, photo by Holly Taylor, used with permission. G is in the blue – not the herald.

As planned in May, I did spend much of last year slowly working on an early 1500s yeoman’s ensemble for G, as seen in the picture on the left. I’m quite happy with the cut and some of the design decision, including the genius solution to the twin problem of G wanting LOTS of shoulder mobility (he does an weight lifter impression every time I ask him to test if he’s happy with a garment, as if that’s one of his usual poses…) and me cutting the armscrye too large – sleeves attached at only the top point of the shoulder! You see this in a number of artworks from this era, and they were so easy to make! It’s still a curved sleeve head, but only the top inch of the sleeve is attached, by whip-stitch.

He wore it all weekend with nary a complaint – so that’s a bonus.

The garment is based on a variety of images of men in France in the 1490s and 1500s. One of the best ones is a gentleman in the background of this image of Anne of Brittany:


Poetic Epistle of Anne of Brittany and Louis XII. Illuminated by Bourdichon. F. 58v: Illustration to Epistle 5. Early 16th century. From “Western European Illuminated Manuscripts 8th to 16th Centuries”

Image from scan by Kimiko Small, I do own this book and it has some great sources for the turn of the 16th century in France and the Low Countries – get a copy if you can.

It’s made of linen lined with damask cotton, to give the weight of wool but to not overheat someone who already has a high internal thermostat. It’s closed with hidden lacing rings running up the centre front seam. The skirt is a circle.

Dabbling in the 14th Century

The other thing we did last year was join a 14th century living history group: The Company of the Staple, known for their excellent research into 14th century crafts, and their excellent food. They portray English merchants in Calais, which is ostensibly in the Low Countries so that’s alright 😉

We pledged to help out with a major medieval show in September so that meant I delved back into my early roots – cotehardies. It was heaps of fun, and a cotehardie is so much easier to churn out than a pleated skirt kirtle – if you don’t mind multitudes of eyelets. This is me in the pink dress in the background, doing crowd control in the drizzle at 8am, with my friends Annabel and Jon (our musican and herald respectively).

What a day for a #medieval #faire @tegan_brown @lenasax #stivesmedieval #prlife

A photo posted by 💁 (@lisa_b_1) on

I also made G a pair of separated wool hose, which was a fun adventure as well. They worked for most of the weekend, but somehow I’d cut the ankle as a curve rather than a straight and so they slowly worked their way under his heel over the course of the weekend. That’s now fixed. Also, I now understand the need for a long apprenticeship in men’s hose – they’re tricksy things to make. Now we have that pattern sorted, and the shorts pattern sorted, maybe I can combine them for the 15th & 16th century joined hose.