I’ve made a variety of items to test my ideas on clothing worn by women of the Low Countries in the early 1500s. You’ll find a number of kirtles and gowns, as well as attempts at getting the hovetcleet ‘right’, and at working out the layers on the early formal Black hoods (commonly known as French Hoods).
Gowns worn by women of the highest social classes, characterised by lots of draping fabric, including full sleeves and skirts, and the use of gold decorative elements.
This was the result of one of those genius moments. This is my original transition era gown from 2004, worn over the top of my black gown, and an early formal hood worn over the red coif.
It was perfect, I felt like I had stepped out of a picture (specifically The Golf Book) and it confirmed some theories on the importance of layering for this style.
Orginally worn in 2013, this look is one of my signatures, and was mostly recently worn in July 2018.
(photo used with permission)
Originally started as a project for our annual Christmas event, it was finished for my ceremony of elevation to the Order of the Laurel. This dress is based on a tapestry finished in the 1520s.
Things I like: ALL OF IT!! It’s my favourite. It’s comfortable, the train works, it’s elegant, the beading is enough subtle bling, the fabric is lovely, the sleeves are comfortable and showy, the head dress is just right and proved (for me) a wonderful theory.
Things I don’t like: ummm… I need to work on the oorijzer and hood interaction, as the hood tends to slip back on my head over time.
This photo taken at Lochac Midwinter Coronation 2013, late in the afternoon, hence the squinty face.
Things I like: it’s both comfortable and elegant. The circle cut skirt has an amazing drape – I’ll be doing that again. Finding the right chains to get the look right. The way it sits under my Curtain Frock and completes the entire look.
Things I don’t like: not much really.
Orginally made in 2007, this gown has been through some changes, demonstrating that I really don’t like long trains on dresses, and that the overlapped front allows you to accommodate changes in body size and season without needing to make a new dress.
This dress conveys the understated richness of the women of the Low Countries at this time, where wealth was shown through choice and amount of fabric in clothing. This is still one of my favourite dresses, and this image captures it at a moment when it felt like real clothing rather than a costume, as all the accessories are also correct.
Isis Sturtewargen uses the term “middling sorts” to describe the urban middling groups in the ‘long sixteenth century’. It is a more useful term than peasant for the Low Countries in the 16th century. These dresses are more practical, more economical with fabric and the fabric is less expensive than those of the court gowns. However, they are still fashionable and these styles tell us about the identities of the women who wore them.
This dress is based on the artworks of Lucas van Leyden, who was active in Antwerp, so probably reflects the styles of this cosmopolitan city. This dress is a staple of my wardrobe and is still frequently worn and admired 15 years after I made it.
Like many of my dresses it has had some modifications as I learnt better skills. In this case the sleeves have been adjusted, and the front overlap attachment has been modified for a smoother fit, as as my body shape changed.
Things I like: the silhouette and overall look. It’s ‘right’. I especially like the bodice to skirt transition, the partlet and the puddle on the skirt.
I drastically changed shape in 2017, and many of my dresses no longer fit. Thus it was a great chance to go back to my original love – the working kirtles of the late 15th century. This was my first attempt at the style in over a decade and it has become a firm favourite.
Things I like: the fit through the bodice. The way it laces open like so many images from the period, but still provides me support. The drape of the skirt
Things I don’t like: the sleeves are cut very badly, and I don’t have a full range of movement. This will be fixed before the next event.
A dress based on a reasonable number of images that show women from the Low Countries (and France) in comfortable v-necked “wrap” dresses. Constructed in 2014.
Things I like: All of it. It’s well-cut, it’s soft, it fulfils it’s purpose as my first-thing-in-the-morning wear at an overnight event. It even has built in pot holder sleeves for pouring the kettle for coffee. It’s both warm, and not too hot. I love the overlap, and the hook and bar combination for holding it down.
Things I don’t like: sometimes the extra length of the sleeves is annoying, but I just fold them up.
Constructed in 2019 as part of a mission to build a complete late 15th century wardrobe that would be practical and comfortable for a 5 day camping event.
This kirtle is made from 100% wool, with such a light weight weave that it feels lighter than linen. I love it. The image at left was its first outing, and I was testing the fit. It has subsequently been tightened through the front seam.
Dress Diary in progress.
A unique and ubiquitous item of Dutch women’s clothing, which I’d been wanting to make for years, and finally made it in 2014.
Things I like: It’s a duck billed cloak!! OK, apart from the joyful novelty of this wacky clothing item, I love that it stays on my head with no assistance, simply through balance. I love the way it flows and drapes. I love that it’s a light layer but keeps me warm and protects from sun and from campfire smoke.
Things I don’t like: I need to stitch down a few of the pleats, and the ‘bill’ is about 2″ too long.