16th Century Court Italian

Below are pictures of me dressed in my new 16th cent. outfit for attending Court.  This dress was originally intended for Atlantian Twelfth Night 2001, but I got sick and couldn't attend and put off the project until later.  It seemed that the Coronation of Havordh and Mary-Grace was the perfect day to debut the outfit, and complete it. 

The entire outfit consists of:

  • chemise
  • two petticoats
  • corset
  • bodice, with sleeves attached at shoulders
  • overskirt/petticoat
  • caul

The chemise was made using Mistress Grace Gamble's pattern out of a fine cotton.  The chemise pattern feature the ruffles at the cuff.  I'd like to make another one with the body pleated onto a band instead of gathered using a drawstring.

The two petticoats were linen skirts, one gathered onto a drawstring and the other cartridge pleated onto a waistband that closed in the back.  These are not visible in the pictures.

The corset was made using the pair of bodies pattern from Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion, 1560-1610.  This was an older corset and needs to be replaced with better materials, but the technique worked.  Next time it will be made of linen and boned more finely, perhaps using light steel or reeds.

The bodice also follows a pattern that Mistress Grace made for me a few years ago.  It is made of one structural pattern piece, so that the only seams are at the shoulders, as it is laced up the back.  This removes the option of busting a seam.  The shoulder and waist skirting are made of pressed looped tabs.  The bodice is laced up the back through 22 hand sewn lacing holes with a hand made cotton lucet cord.  The sleeves are two pieces, made to be relatively close fitting and follow the bend of the elbow.  This sleeve pattern was also taken from a doublet pattern in Janet Arnold.  The sleeves and bodice are completely lined in linen in a futile attempt to make the outfit a bit cooler.  :)

The over skirt, often also called a petticoat whilst the outer layer, is made of the same fabric as the bodice and sleeves.  It is four yards pleated onto a waistband that closes in the front.  I used rolled pleats for the skirt, which gave the pleats a nice deep look, almost tubular.  This aided in getting the four yards in the skirt without having to cartridge pleat it.

The caul is the little hat on the back of the head.  This was often used to contain or cover the hair in a flat bun.  It is constructed of a 12 inch circle pleated onto a thin band.  The caul should be held on with pins, but since I shortened my hair to donate to Locks of Love, I stitched in a tuck comb to hold the caul onto my remaining ponytail.

The fabric choice was not ideal for a warm spring day.  The fabric is a synthetic upholstery brocade that I received as a gift from my brother-in-law.  He kindly gave me plenty of it, so I decided it would be put to good use in this outfit.  The bodice, sleeves, skirt and caul are all of the same fabric. Since the brocade was not an even weave, I decided to machine sew as much as possible, since handsewing the fabric was a bit of a trial.   I do hope to eventually make a doublet bodice using Margo's pattern, as part of the beta testing program.

dressClick on any of the pictures to see a larger view. The silly expression on my face is entirely the fault of the photographer. Here is a close up of the bodice.  The rose necklace/choker was a gift from my lord on my last birthday.  The green belt is my apprentice belt from Mistress Thjora.  The dolphin pin was picked up as an alternative to the award medallion for the Atlantian Order of the Golden Dolphin for service.  Later in the evening at Coronation, after I had changed into a more temperature appropriate outfit of 100% linen, Their Majesties, King Havordh and Queen Mary-Grace, inducted me into their Order of the Pearl, for the arts and sciences.  Pictures: 1 and 2.


dress dress

Photographs copyright © 2001 Kevin Maxson



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