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.