I love to guest play in historical periods where I don’t really belong. I love the challenge of blending in without knowing so much about the period.

Yellow regency gown - 7

Last autumn I was invited to a “Waterloo victory feast”, as regency is not at all my period I of course needed to make a whole new kit. I stole my 18th century shift to be a bit lazy, and machine sewed a pair of regency stays and also took my 18th century underskirt; but the dress is all new and all hand sewn.

Yellow regency gown - 2

As it was autumn I wanted to make a dress in wool, most extant dresses are in silk or cotton but there is a original Danish dress in wool. I also happened to have some yellow thin twill at home that was actually going to become a 14th century dress that felt like a good choice.

Yellow regency gown - 1

I draped the pattern on my self based on extant dresses and decided that the “drop front” dress was interesting and a good thing to start out with.

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Yellow regency gown - 4

The bodice is lined in a thin linen fabric but not the sleeves. I tried to aim at a shape of a 1810-1815 dress.

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I have always loved the regency style but have been put of by it being a bit off for my shape, my body shape is “better” for the 16th-18th century, but I might have to admit that I have been bitten by the regency bug. Fabric for a new dress is ordered and also a spencer is planned. A red wool spencer have been on my wish list for at least 10 years now, it is kind of stupid that I have not made one yet.

Yellow regency gown - 5

Herjofsnes challenge No. 39 - 2

Earlier this year, Elina at Neulakko started the Herjolfsnes challenge on Facebook after a bunch of us realised that we all bought the same fabric with the intention that it would become a garment based on the extant garments from Herjolfsnes, Greenland. With the books “Woven into the earth” and/or “Medieval Garments Reconstructed” as a base and help.

Herjofsnes challenge No. 39 - 3
Herjofsnes challenge No. 39 - 4

I decided to make a no. 39 based on the fact that there was no strange seams, no singling or tablet weaving involved. I wanted to take the “easy way out” as I always seem to make things harder and more complicated. I need to exercise simplicity.
Also I really wanted to make a short sleeved overdress and the double pointed gore in front and back is so pretty.

Herjofsnes challenge No. 39 - 8

The fabric is a white/gray wool twill fabric from Medeltidssmode.se it is a bit fluffy but not to thick. It was very nice to work with and for this dress I decided to not use any measuring while sewing. Trying to get over my tailor training of exact measurement but trust my eyes.

Herjofsnes challenge No. 39 - 1

Herjofsnes challenge No. 39 - 13

The dress is sewn with wool tread using only running stitches as the original. All the seams are sewn to the dress with overcast stitches.

Herjofsnes challenge No. 39 - 10

Both in the neckline, hem and sleeves 1cm is folded in and cast down. The extant gown have no filler threads mentioned at all so I decided not to use any either.

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There is two rows of stab stitching at the neckline and sleeves and in the bottom hem there is one row of stab stitches. I also stab stitched the top part of the front and back gore as the original. It is a good way of defining and making a durable edge. Locking the seam allowances down and helps from stretching.

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Herjofsnes challenge No. 39 - 14

Herjofsnes challenge No. 39 - 15

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Herjofsnes challenge No. 39 - 6

The neckline have two pairs of eyelets, the text does not mention anything about what the were sewn with but as all the other seams are sewn with wool, I used that for the eyelets as well.

Herjofsnes challenge No. 39 - 5

Herjofsnes challenge No. 39 - 7

sideless surcoat - 8
Being a trial member of the 14th century re-enactment group Fraternis Militia Carnis I was invited to the carnival at the annular meeting. I decided to dress up as a popular medieval saint, Catherine of Alexandria. For this I needed some “fancy clothing”. So I decided to make a yellow silk sidless surcoat, something that also have a home in my “normal medieval wardrobe”.

sideless surcoat - 7

sideless surcoat - 1
It is made in silk tafetta and is flat lined with a thin wool fabric to give the right drape of the fabric. I choose to machine wash the silk and wool before sewing, that was a good thing as I was spilled on after 30 minutes, meat on silk dress leaves a stain, but most came of after a go in the machine.

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sideless surcoat - 5
I also made a front and back gusset even if all extant sidless surcoats are with only side gussets. But based on manuscripts the fullness seems sometime to also be in front of the sidless surcoat. But if you wish to make it without I would advice you to make the side gussets a bit wider in the hem.

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The whole dress is sewn by hand with running stitches with silk thread, back stitches are kind of unnecessary as there is no strain what so ever on the seams in this kind of dress. The seams are then sewn to the wool lining with not to big stitches.

sideless surcoat - 3

sideless surcoat - 4

I finished the neckline with stab stitches and will probably do the armholes as well. I hemmed the neckline with a single fold, but the armholes with a small double folded hem, as you can see it when it is worn. The bottom hem is a wider single folded hem.

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This dress was made for me who is 176cm long, bust measurement 120cm, hip measurement 130cm.
The pattern is made in cm, click it to see a larger version.

sideless surcoat - pattern

After having my old St. Brigitta’s cap for several years, and not really liking it that much. Well I like the cap itself as it is the best thing to pin your veils to, but it was a bit on the rough side with a bit to thick linen and also the band over the seam seemed like a good idea at the time but I don’t want it to show when wearing my frilled veils. Also the original cap have a lace embroidery over the head and in front on the band.

Making a new one is not that much work either, and the embroidery part was much easier than I thought.
I started by cutting the cap part out, in stead of sewing the back seam together I hemmed the two parts individually. Then I basted the cap to a thin cardboard that I had marked out some guide lines on to make it easier to embroider, the gap is 1cm wide and the markings are 0,5cm apart.
Embroidered St. Birgittas cap - 1
Embroidered St. Birgittas cap - 2

I used this excellent guide for the embroidery for the interlaced herringbone stitch.
I recommend looking at the guide in stead of my pictures, it is very clear. My pictures was mostly to show the progress on facebook.
I used a silk buttonhole tread for my embroidery, it became very delicate and nice, the original cap was probably embroidered with linen thread.

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Embroidered St. Birgittas cap - 4
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At the end where the slit in the cap will be I made a bar by making buttonhole stitches over a couple of treads.

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In the front I made a embroidery inspired by this picture on Medieval Silkwork.

And this is how it looks when finished.
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Embroidered St. Birgittas cap - 12

Embroidered St. Birgittas cap - 13
And also how it looks when worn with a frilled veil, and also here with some flax cornettes I made a while ago. I love how the lace embroidery is seen under the veil.

If you want to make your own St. Birgitta’s cap here is a tutorial with a pattern.

This tutorial is long due, I took most of the pictures two years ago so when I decided to redo the skirt on my 16th century German dress a couple of weeks ago I took the last pictures for the tutorial.

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Start out by cutting the shell fabric, I have a blue wool fabric that is slightly fulled. The back piece is cut on fold, but not the front piece, as it will open in front.

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The pattern is without seam allowances as you can see, I choose to have 1,5 cm seam allowance everywhere except the neckline and centre front, there the seam allowance is 1cm.

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The I cut my linen lining, I use my shell fabric as pattern pieces in stead of the paper patter, it lays better on the pattern and you can just cut them the same size, no measuring seam allowances a second time.

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Put the shell fabric and lining wrong sides together.

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Baste the two layers together, they will now be treated as one piece of fabric.

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Put the pieces right sides together and pin the shoulder and sides seams together, I have made a sewing line with a pen so that my stitches will be straight, these lines will never be seen so no need to use any special pens.

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I sew the shoulder and side seams with backstitches using waxed linen thread, as this is a tight garment so it is important that the seams hold up.

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Before sewing all the way down to the hem I cut away some of the lining, this is so that when the bodice is hemmed the lining won’t peak out.

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Then I take away the basting on the shoulder seams and side seams.

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The lining is cut down in all the seam allowances in side seams and shoulder seams, to make the seams less bulky and to make sure that the lining won’t peak out when the seams are felled.

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I press my seams flat with my iron and then I trim the seam allowances down to 1cm. You can start with smaller seam allowances from the start, but by cutting them at this stage you can mask if you have not sewn 100% straight. I think this make the seam allowances look cleaner especially if you have a fabric that is prone to fraying.

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Then I cast the seam allowances down, I use a filler thread because it is pretty and it keep the edge from fraying. To be honest the use of filler threads like this is something that might not be 100% historically accurate, the use of filler threads have been found on the garments from Greenland, but the findings is from the necklines only. But I do this anyway, as I find it historically plausible and pretty, but I wanted to make clear that it might not be correct.

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But it is so pretty!

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Take care when casting down the seam allowances to not go through the shell fabric, as I have done here, red might not have been the best choice of colour.

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I do the same on the shoulder seams.

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Then I cut out the fabric for my guards. The width is you choice, there are a lot of variation in the pictures, but they are all fairly wide. I have also added 1cm seam allowance on both sides.
I cut them longer then I really need, to have some fabric to work with.

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I press in the seam allowance on one side.

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Then put the guard right sides together with the front opening, make sure that you the guard is sticking out in the top and bottom.

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Mark the top of.

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Then put the strip from the bottom of the neckline in the front.

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Mark the corners on both strips.

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Draw diagonal lines on both strips connecting one corner to another.

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That line is the seam line, I add 0,5cm seam allowance.

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I always number my pieces to make sure that I know where they are supposed to go.

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Then I keep doing the same thing for the whole neckline. Putting the strips right sides to the bodice, marking the corners, drawing seam lines and adding seam allowance.

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Do this for the whole neckline and front openings.

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I sew them together in the right order using running stitches and silk thread, the reason for not using back stitches is that these go faster and on this seam there will be no stress so the strength if the back stitch is not needed. It is important to use the seams wisely. You are hand sewing this thing so why waste time by using a stitch that is unnecessary, time that can be better used doing other nice things.

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I sew only to the pressed fold of the seam allowance, not all the way down.

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In some of the corners you need to make some cuts and to cut away some material to make the guards lay flat when you press the seams down.

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When the seams of the guard is pressed you put it right side to the lining of the bodice.

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I have marked out my seam allowance on the neckline and centre front; 1cm with a tailors chalk.

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Then I sew the guards to the bodice using running stitches with waxed linen thread, make smaller stitches or even back stitches in the corners.

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Then I trim down the corners to make them less bulky.

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I take away the basing thread in the neckline.

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I also cut away like this, to make it possible to turn the guards and make the corners nice and neat.

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I trim down the seam allowances all around the front and neckline. The shell fabric is shortest, the guards are longest and the lining is in between.

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Turn the guards around and press the edges, make sure that the black is visible from the lining side, this is to make sure that the lining fabric will not peak over the edge when the dress is worn.

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Pin the guards down.

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Now we take a break from the bodice and make lacing strips. They are made from the same linen as the lining, folded so that you fold the raw edges inside so that the whole strip have four layers of fabric. As you can see the lacing holes are for spiral lacing, that is the most common lacing type in the 16th century.

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I sew a line of running stitches on one side of where I want my boning.

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Then I make my lacing holes, the next pictures are taken from another project, as I forgot to take pictures. I start of by punching holes in the fabric with the smallest setting. I sew them with button hole stitch, as this is a period correct way to do both buttonholes and lacing holes. The knots on the buttonhole stitch makes the lacing holes and button holes more even and it protect the edge. Each stitch is a knot and that means that when the buttonhole or lacing hole gets a lot of wear so that it actually wears of threads the rest of the buttonhole will be intact. If you don’t have the knots the entire buttonhole might unravel.

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Then I widen the holes using my bone tool, I know a lot of people use knitting needles for this work, I made this bone tool to polish the edges of punched holes in leather, but it is perfect for making lacing holes as well.

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Make a hole as big as you want.

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Thread a needle with waxed linen tread and make a knot at the end. I put the needle in a bit away from the hole and come up about 4mm from it.

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Pull the thread through.

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Put the needle through the hole and up through the fabric again, at the same distance from the hole as last time.

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As you pull the tread you will see the loop that is forming.

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Put the tread on the left side of the loop, and then take the needle through the loop from behind. It is important that you put the tread on the left and come through from behind, this is what makes the knot on the thread.

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Pull the tread, see in what direction I am pulling the tread, this makes the knot end up at the edge of the hole. You can pull it so that it comes more up on the edge or even more inside the hole depending on how you pull the thread. It is a matter of taste where you place the knot.

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Do the same again and you will see that row of knots form like a pearl bracelet!

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After some stitches I like to use my bone tool again, when you sew lacing holes it tends to shrink as you work. Doing this makes the hole bigger, you can get a lot more stitches in and the lacing hole itself gets stiff from all the stitches, no need to reinforce with metal rings at all.

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Then you keep stitching until you come all the way round to your first stitch.

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Here I go through the treads between the first and the second knot.

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And then down to the backside. Doing this will make sure that there is a solid ring without gaps.

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I secure the thread on the backside.

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Take the needle through the layers and then up again.This is so that the end of the tread will not be visible. And if you cut the tread of just where you secured it the knot will unravel, having a cm of thread left will keep the knot secure.

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Cut the knot of on the front and the tread of the back.

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And then you do it all over again, and again and again.

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Then I pin the lacing strip to the bodice about 0,5 cm from the centre front edge.

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Then I attach the lacing stitch with backstitches, through all the layers except the guards. This line of stitches forms the boning channel.

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See how clever it is, the seam is totally hidden by the guards.

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Here is where I stray from period correctness, I use a modern crinoline steel to help my lacing out. I guess the period correct version would be to use reed as you use in 18th century stays.

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I secure the top and bottom with extra tiny stitches.

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Now I sew the guards down, I sew with silk thread and with these stitches that makes the seam invisible.

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Then I trim of the end of the lacing strip.

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I trim some of the lining of to make sure that it won’t peak out when the bodice is hemmed.

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Then I fold 1,5 cm up and press the hem, I trim some off just at my lacing panel.

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Then I sewing it the hem down with small stitches.

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Then I pull away the basting thread at the hem.

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All clean and pretty, but not done yet! My floor is not so clean ;) I have the habit of throwing scraps and treads on the floor, it is quicker for me that way, to clean it all in one go.

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This is how it looks so far.

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Now lace it up with a scrap string.

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Put needles in between the lacing, this is to prevent the lacing from gaping.

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Secure with stitches.

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Now on to sleeves, this tutorial comes with a pattern of a simple s-sleeve but here you can see my fancy sleeve that is a adapted version of the s-sleeve.

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I sew the sleeve together using back stitches, and then I sew it into the bodice also using back stitches.
The sleeve head have added 3 cm of ease, the sleeve is 3 to big for the bodice arm holes. This is to make a pretty sleeve and those 3 cm is distributed at the top of the sleeve around the shoulder seam. It is not supposed to be a puffy sleeve, done correctly you will have no small pleats or ruffles in the seam. for wool 3 cm of ease is not that much is you sew in linen it will be harder to fit the sleeve.

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Here you see the ease, but where the seam is there is no pleats or ruffles. To make a pretty sleeve this ease must be pressed down.

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I put it on my tailors ham and add water.

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then I gently start to work the ease down. You will have to go easy to not press the ease into pleats. Add more water when you fell that is is dry and press until flat.

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Here we see before and after, insane difference, this is why wool is awesome!

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Now I trim down my seam allowance in the sleeves to 1 cm.

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Then I cast the edges of all the layers together, this is all the finishing I will do on this edge, binding it would make it to bulky, but this is enough to keep it nice and together.
Remove all the basting threads left on the bodice.

Now on to the skirt, unfortunately when I took the photos I decided not to show you how to attach the skirt as I wore it as a separate piece. But is is much more period correct to have the skirt and bodice sewn together so when I decided to renovate my 16th century German dress and attach the skirt I took photos of that. But that means that I have no photos of how to sew the skirt part together.

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But it is very easy. My skirt is made up by three widths of fabric sewn together with running stitches and then the seams are felled. In one seam there is a opening so that you can get in and out of the dress.
I choose three widths of fabric to make it wide enough in relation to my body. I am big, and to make the hem look on me as it does on the women in the woodcuts, to make the pleats as deep ad they need to be I needed three widths of fabric. If you are smaller you will do fine with less and it personal preference. I already have a good trossfrau body, round hips, small waist and big breast but I you need more hips the extra fabric will help you out. I like to joke and say I was built to for 16th century German fashion ;)

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I have quite the wide hem on the skirt, this helps to hold it out in shape.

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The slit in front, here you can see my stitching before I started tailoring school, sooo big stitches ;)

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I have two rows of guards on the skirt, the cut-out is inspired by a woodcut, some people have puffs of silk coming out of these slashes, I wanted mine to be simple. I have also sewn down the slashes onto the skirt in stead of only hemming them. After a few incidents of getting stuck on low objects and benches and ripping the slashes or at some times part of the whole guard of the dress I decided to make it more secure.

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On the top of the skirt I fold down 3 cm. This is because I want to make the cartridge pleating in double fabric, to make the pleats even fuller.

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Using my smock guide I mark out two lines of dots that are 1 cm from each other and 1 cm from the edge.

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Like this

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Then I divide the skirt into four parts, this is to make gathering the skirt even easier, I make marks with some thread.

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Then I sew the gathering treads, down one dot up at the next.

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At the slit I sew the edges of the fold and the skirt together.

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I sew two lines of gathering stitches that I secure in one end.

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Then I pull the treads, look at the pretty cartridge pleating.

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I also mark the bodice in four equal parts.

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Then I put the markings at the skirt to the markings on the bodice right sides together.

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Now it is easy to gather the skirt evenly, put some pins as I go along.

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Then I stitch the skirt to the bodice. I do it with two stitches at each pleat, to make it strait.
Also the skirt is kind of heavy and these stitches need to be able to hold that weight.

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Look all neat and nice, I love cartridge pleats!

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This is how it looks at the front opening.

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When you are finished with the seam you can pull the gathering treads out.

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As you can see the cartridge pleats “stands open” inside the dress, this gives you the extra hip boost that will give you the correct 16th century hips, and for us that already have 16th century hips naturally; we get the superfrauhips! More hips is good, the German ladies all seems to have a lot of them.

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And now, you are actually DONE! With the dress that is, the list of stuff you need now is long, this is why the 16th century German women never gets boring. It is easy to give one dress many looks by simply changing the chemise, the veil or the size of you wulsthaube. Throwing on another hat, getting a fancy new gollar. I have tutorial for most of the details to make a 16th century German outfit in my tutorial list

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Here is the pattern.
It is in cm as always and made for me.
Bust: 118cm
Waist: 94cm

Remember to do a mock-up before cutting into the real fabric.

16th century German dress - pattern front
16th century German dress - pattern back
16th century German dress - pattern sleeve

It always starts with the idea, I see someone in a outfit that makes the gears in my head turn furiously. So I do a lot of looking at pictures, on paintings and then I sketch my idea. The sketches always look something like this.

The yellow dress - or the housebook dress - 1
The yellow dress - or the housebook dress - 2
Many lines and text, explaining to myself what my idea is, the drawings are not made for someone else to look at, only so that I can remember that great idea I had about that specific detail.

I have collected my “housebook” dress pictures on a separate pinterest board, if you wish to have a look.

This dress is interesting, with the silly pleated part in the front, the low cut neck. There is a lot of details in the look and as always what I find interesting is “how does this work with my boobs?!

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And as always when dealing with a difficult model, I start with a toille. Drawing new lines, cutting it up after those lines and making it work. The front piece is a square, and then the shape for the bust is pinned to this piece, this makes all the shaping for the bust invisible, as on the finished garment it looks like straight lines.

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The pieces, now comes the real pattern work.

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The old darts of the toille is cut away and then put together to close up the pattern pieces for one single pattern piece without the seam. Some of the width is lost, but if it is only this small amount you will not notice it.

The yellow dress - or the housebook dress pattern - 2
The yellow dress - or the housebook dress pattern - 1
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The pattern when finished looks like this I have added a skirt piece that widens in stead of putting in gores. As the paintings show no visible lines for gores in the skirt, and they show every other seams there is. The pictures show wide hems, so I did this and also have 75cm of fabric in the front and back pleated panels.

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Here we have the panels, my panels are 75cm wide, and the front panel have a slit down the front to allow for an opening of the dress centre front.

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I have a sturdy linen as a base for my panels.

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I decided to make rolled pleats. Many recreations have stuffed cartridge pleating, but looking on the paintings and drawings they never have more then ten pleats, but very wide hems on the dresses, so I decided that even if there is no “evidence” for rolled pleats in this period they would be perfect. There is no need for stuffing the pleats, they fall just as in the pictures and you can get a lot of fabric to fit on a small area.

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They are made like this, They are sewn onto the linen linings with running stitches.

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then they are rolled one at a time and secured like this.

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The dress is then sewn and the pleated panels inserted in the front, they are attached at the top like this.

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I decided to do the open back sleeves, so here we have lacing holes, they look like golden silk suns.

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They are backed with a sturdy linen.

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I sew in silk with buttonhole stitches, as this makes for neater and sturdier buttonholes, and it is also the period way to do.

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The neckline is a single fold hem finished with stab stitching and on the back with a filler thread.

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Last thing is to finish the hem. I always put the dress on, make someone put one needle in each seam at the height of where I want my hem. Then I take it of, fold the dress in half and make a nice line working from these needles.

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As I did not want to take away the wools ability to stretch and shape around the body, I only put lining around the waist, where I wanted to make sure that there was no tension on the pleated panels. If they strain you can be sure that the hidden lacing will show. There is a corsets steel behind the lacing holes, to keep it all straight and nice. I guess the period way would to have reeds there in stead of modern spring steel.
The Lining is only secured in the back with big stitches, and then in the side seams and at the front on the pleated panel.

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A picture on neat seams in the inside.

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I have hooks and eyes in the top, as the lacing only goes up to the height of the pleated panel.

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The sleeves have one continuous lace, I did not work that well to have it free so I have stitched it to keep it from bunching up when wearing the dress.

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There is many pictures with elaborate veils, so I was inspired to make something that looks like “Meister des Amsterdamer Kabinetts: Das Gothaer Liebespaar” so I made a paper guide where I made a hole in each crossing with a big needle and then made dots on a thin linen fabric with the help of a pen.

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The long lines was couched in silk.

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And then I made stars with the same silk but another tone over each crossing.

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Some details in the front.

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Sadly there was not enough silk to make the last three stars, but this place is hidden in the back and never visible.

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Under the dress I wear my Lengberg castle brassiere, and to wear over that I made a now hemd, I use the same method as in my kampfrau tutorial, but in stead of the high neck I choose to make it low and only honeycomb smock and to have less fabric in the body.

Then there came the problem of closure of the top of the dress. When I saw the big golden closure of THIS and THIS ladies I was in love, but with no metal working skills there was no way that I could make them.

But then suddenly I saw this blog post. And of course! I can make one like that to.

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So I turned to good old Etsy and ordered a pile of golden filigrees and started building. Layering the filigrees gave it a very nice solid look.

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To top it all of I needed a wulstahube that was so big that it looked really silly. This was important for me, to make it so high that I could almost not wear it. There are numerous pictures of really big wulsthaubes in period artwork, and as I love the silly headdresses I wanted to top this silly dress of with something equally silly. As stuffing this wulst with fabric would make it to heavy I turned to thin birch branches that I made into a wulst and padded with linen wrapping.

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And yes it turned into a really silly wulsthaube, it took me several weeks to decide if I could wear it. But I finally started to like the sillyness of the height.

And this is how the dress turned out, the yellow and golden dress.

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After spending lots of hours of smocking, you wear your fancy new smocked garment on a event, afterwards you throw it in the washing machine.

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And it comes out looking all wonky and not at all that crisp and nice.
But there is no need to worry, resetting is easy, it just takes some time if you only have a ordinary ironing board.

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You need lots of pins for this, star of by pinning on the edge.

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Pin at every stitch for as long as your ironing board or garment allows.

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Then you pull the fabric under each stitch, see, now you can see the crispness again, and then you put a pin.

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Lots of pins, you need to have these without heads, as we are going to apply heat to them later on.

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If you do not have a iron with steam, you take a piece of fabric, I use a linen kitchen towel and make it really wet in one end, Use a old washed fabric to prevent excess colour from staining your work. Squeeze out some of the water.

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Lay the wet part of the towel over the smock.

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Then really lightly touch the towel with the iron just where your smock is. Do not apply any pressure, you only want the heat. The towel should now do a sizzling noise, the water turning into steam. If you happen to have a steam iron, you can just use a dry towel and then hold it over the towel and use lots of steam on the smock.

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Now take the towel away and wait for it to cool down and dry completely. If you have a vacuum ironing board this takes you no time, but for us without it can take several hours.

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I do the sleeve on the sleeve board.

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And this is how it turn out after cooling down, as good as new or perhaps even crisper. Now you can move on the the newt part of your garment and work your way around the whole smock, just to the same thing all over again.

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Here is a smocked apron that I have done the same thing to.

And now you can go out, wear it at en event, throw it in the washing machine and then do it all again ;)