This dress is affectionately known as “Karinne’s PINK dress” or “the pink party frock” by my friends. It is based on the picture shown below, “St Cecilia and her Fiancé”, by Cornelis Engelbrechtsz., Lucas van Leyden’s teacher. Engelbrechtsz.’ work also shows the Leiden style of dress, although usually his women are allegorical and so we must view some of the details of his paintings, e.g. his hats, as suspect.
Originally I was looking foward to making this dress in a colour similar to that of the painting, a muted beige or brown. Instead as I was a poor student at the time, my Laurel kindly donated some fabric that she found for the dress, and “Karinne’s PINK dress” was born. Pink is not a colour that I would normally have chosen for myself, however I have grown fond of it, particularly with the black contrasts in the dress.
From an authenticity point of view I had some concerns about the use of this particular shade of pink in a Dutch dress from this period, as most of my previous research implied that browns, dark greens and oranges were the most commonly worn colours. However a small illumination from the da Costa hours put this concern to rest.
To pattern the bodice for this dress we began with the pattern from the “curtain” dress and made the following alterations: The neckline is a lot higher, and sits on my third vertebrae. As a result of this the front of the dress can be much lower and wider and sits 1/3 of the way down the bust. In future I would like to make the join between the back piece and the front pieces more rounded as currently they are square to each other and I don’t think it recreates the correct neckline.
The dress is closed by hidden lacing at the centre front of the bodice. The left side of the bodice was cut 1.5 inches longer to cover the lacing and this extra flap is closed with pins (which occasionally leads people to believe that the dress is not finished). The neck and front edges of the bodice are finished with a contrasting black bias strip set in 1 cm from the edge in imitation of the one in the original picture.
The bodice is lined with canvas and has no support garment under it. I am planning to make an underdress for it in the future, as it is uncommon to see a dress with sleeves which are designed to be folded back (as is the case with this dress) with no underdress, although there are a couple of examples of this. Also in future I would stiffen the curved edge of the bodice more and the edge of the front panel to prevent the rolling and puckering that is currently occurring.
The sleeves on this dress are set in to the bodice. They are patterned from Hunnisett, and are a full arc (Hunnisett: 53, pattern A1). They are designed to be pinned back to the shoulder, revealing the lining of the sleeve and the under sleeve. However this particular cut feels too full in the back, so next time I will probably try the other sleeve pattern in Hunnisett’s book, the one based on the dresses of the family portrait of Thomas More (pattern A3).
The skirt is made up of 5 trapezoids, 2 at the front, 2 at the sides and one at the back. The skirt is not lined, although I would do this on the next dress to create some more weight in the skirt and some bulk to the pleats. The skirt is pleated to the bodice lining with concertina pleats, which I will pad next time to create more bulk. After making this dress I noticed that most of the dresses were not flat fronted and instead seem to be quite bulky around the hipline. This could possibly be a cartridge pleated undreskirt, a “bumroll” that goes all the way around the waist, or simply the effect of a tight bodice on a round stomach. These are issues that I will also consider for my next dress. There is also a 2cm black bias strip around the hem. Lucas van Leyden’s skirts generally have either a thin contrasting band on the hem, or nothing. This is reflected in the work of other Dutch artists of the time.
A partlet is commonly worn with this style of dress to cover the chest area exposed by the scandalously low bodices. They are generally white and can be either sheer or opaque. Dutch partlets of this time come in a range of forms ranging from a single layer of fabric fitted across the shoulders with no neckband, to ones that are smocked to a neck band which is then embroidered. This partlet is of the second type.
The neckband is a fine weight linen, with whitework embroidery worked on it. The pattern for the embroidery was taken from the German Blackwork website and is worked in DMC cotton thread. A close up of the St Cecilia portrait shows that the decoration on her neckband is white, and this was my solution to what the decoration may be.
The “body” of the partlet is a light cotton voile, loosely gathered into the neckband and hand stitched under the lower edge of it. It is open at the centre front, with selvedges used to create the edges of the partlet, which reduces any bulk in the front.
This style of cap can be seen in many of Lucas van Leyden’s etchings, but does not appear in his paintings. The caps in this picture are similar in style to the finished cap although they differ in decoration (for the cap on the left) and shape (the cap on the right).
The cap was made from white linen. The front part was patterned first and is designed to curve over my ears from a point at the top of my skull, thus showing part of the hair. This line is reinforced with wire, although this may not be necessary if the linen is stiff enough.
The back part of the cap, the “bag” section is made of a rectangle of fabric, with one edge curved to fit with the front of the cap. Gold cord was then sewn onto this fabric, and hemmed. It was then gathered to the edge of the cap. Ties were attached to the lower edge of the cap (behind the ears) so that it can be tied onto the head, and the bag is gathered and held in place by two pins. Finally a brooch is attached to the centre point of the hood for decoration.
The height of the cap was achieved by sewing a padded roll of fabric to a headband which then sits securely on the head and is tied at the nape of the neck to keep it in shape. While I believe that a padded roll is appropriate for this style (similar to the German “wulst”) it probably wasn’t attached by a headband or internal comb, and so I will need to research further what was used to keep this item on the head. Perhaps the roll is stiched into the cap in one piece. I don’t think that it was simply attached to hair plaited around the head, as there is too much bulk in some of the hats for this to be the case.
Hunnisett, Jean, “Period Costume for Stage and Screen: Patterns for Women’s dress 1500-1800”, Bell & Hyman, London, 1986. ISBN: 0 7135 2660 2