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.

Mens fitted stocks (HSF#12 – Shape and support)

IMG_6890I’ve switched my focus a little from women’s clothing to men’s, partially thanks to the variety of illuminations that I now have access to, and partially as I need to clothe my other half in better gear than the stuff I made him in our first years back in Australia.

One of the items he will need for a turn of the 1500s ensemble is a pair of fitted hose to be tied to his doublet. This item of clothing was ubiquitous in the late 1400s, the jeans of the day. They were tightly fitted to the legs, and shaped the legs and buttocks to some extent. The hose were closed at the front with a codpiece which was padded to achieve a variety of fashionable shapes that shifted over the decades.

I’ve tried to make these in one hit from hip to toe twice before and it’s just not worked, as there are so many stress lines and points of peculiarity in this item. This includes one occasion where I worked with a commercial pattern, and the bias twist lines still didn’t work for me.

Instead, after making knee-high hose for myself I decided to split the hose into two parts initially to stress test how to make them, and then join both parts together into one item later. This article is about the upper stocks that I made as part one of this theory. The other part will be a pair of separate 14th century hose which I’ll be asking an experienced male costuming friend to help me with.

Evidence for Upper Stocks?


Imprisonment of Joan of Arc, Martial d’Auvergne, Viglles de la mort du roy Charles VII, fol.e;r. Lyons 1496-97. Sourced from Anne van Bruchem, Illuminating Fashion: Dress in the Art of Medieval France and the Netherlands, 1325-1515

The use of separate upper stocks in the last decade of the 1400s is conjectural. We have an extant pair of tight upper hose from Italy in the 1520s, and a set from Germany are shown in the Tudor Tailor. I also found an image of an item from the late 1490s that could be a man wearing separate upper and nether stocks over his hose, specifically the gentleman entering the door in the image at right. The separation of the lined section from the smooth section in the upper thigh, along with the turned-over and draped section on the calf, suggest to me that these could be two separate items.

Just the Facts

The Challenge: Shape and Support

Fabric: Felted wool, and linen

Pattern: Cut off version of the Tudor Tailor’s hose. Codpiece self drafted.

Year: 1496

Notions: None

How historically accurate is it? The pattern is correct for full-length joined hose of the late 1400s, whether they were ever cut off is debatable (see above)

Hours to complete: Approx 20 hours

First worn: Lochac Midwinter Coronation, 5 July 2014

Total cost: This was made from remnants in my stash, the brown wool was the same as that used for the dress in the Pink Challenge, and the linen edging was from my box of cabbage. Probably $20 all up.

The final item

The final item