Traditional Costume – Bunschoten & Spakenburg

The second post in a series about Dutch Traditional costume. The costume worn in Hindeloopen, about which I posted last, has been gone for over 100 years. In contrast, the costume of Bunschoten and Spakenburg is one of the costumes still worn today, with about 200 women who still wear it daily. The costume will be gone from daily life soon however, an estimate is that every year the number drops with 30, the costume being gone within the next 10 years.

The most iconic part of this costume is the ‘kraplap’. A kraplap is a rectangle of fabric with a hole in the middle, which is put over het head. The best comparison would be a shirt without the sides and the sleeves. The kraplap is present in many of Dutch traditional costumes, but in Spakenburg it has, over the years, become larger and larger and starched. The kraplap is the focus piece of the costume, and made of beautifully flower patterned fabrics. The older ones were made of Indian chintz, some ladies still have pieces of fabric from generations past which they still use in their costume.

A kraplapl lying flat.

The front view of a kraplap, the fold would be over the shoulders. The black/white combination signals light mourning.

A kraplap in a very lovely Indian chintz fabric. You can see that this one is older than the previous ones, as it is smaller.

When worn over the shoulders, the kraplap gives a very distinct silhouette to the wearer. They are actually quite un-practical, as it becomes impossible to stick out your arms to the front. When worn daily though, it will become a bit less stiff and all ladies wearing this daily are perfectly capable of doing all their work. The kraplap is worn together with two pieces of checkered fabric, white stripes on red. The front one has horizontal and vertical stripes and is pinned on the kraplap. The back one has the same type of stripes as the first, but with diagonal stripes. This one is stiffened with a piece of carton and tied together with a piece of string underneath the front of the kraplap. The shape over the shoulders is kept by white twill tape, pinned in place under the front piece of fabric and then taken through loops at the back of the kraplap and with hooks and bars attatched to the front.

Two young ladies in costume, around 1950-1960.

Aside from the kraplap, a black t-shirt is worn with checkered fabric sleeves pinned on with safety pins. A black skirt is worn, with over it an apron. On work days the apron is of checkered fabric, on sundays only the top is of checkered fabric and starched, and the bottom is dark blue. The sleeves and apron are usually of matching fabrics. The hair is rolled up over a hair-rat and worn in a bun underneath a starched white lace cap.

Ladies from the back. The leftmost one is wearing her sunday apron, the other two a daily apron. The rightmost is in light mourning, as seen from the colourless kraplap and the only blue apron.

Nowadays there are no children wearing the costume any more, except on special occasions, but they used to wear their own version of the costume. The girls wore a smaller kraplap, had a large black hat and a checkered apron dress  worn over the kraplap.

Spakenburg (1952) fotograaf:   Oorthuys, Cas #Utrecht #Spakenburg:

Schoolgirls, 1955. It is winter, so they are wearing jackets between the kraplap and the apron.



Inspiration – Regency Dresses

This weekend, I attended the Bal Masque organized by Stichting Reverence, a masqued ball taking place in 1813. I had a lovely evening, about which I’ll post more once I’ve got all the photos. For now, it has mainly gotten me inspired again to make a regency dress. I want to finish my 1860s black ballgown first though, so at this point I’m just dreaming, ‘what would I make if I had all the time and money in the world’…

Some of my favourite dresses:

I love the bow at the front, and combination of white and a bright colour.

The colour of this dress is lovely, and I like the little golden grecian trimmings.

I really adore this dress, the colours and the paisly details. I’d need to find an affordable paisly scarf to make this though…

Almost the same as in the painting!

Amazing embroidery, and I really like the idea of a sheer overdress and a bright underdress.

It’s plaid! Not sure if I like the bodice though…

I do like the bodice on this one.

Stripes. I like the gold/white colour combination as well.

Some white dresses can be a bit plain, but I adore this one. The fabric is so pretty.

The lace on this one is even prettier… Love it.

Maybe both a white dress combined with this style…?

Traditional costume – Hindeloopen

I love traditional costumes, they’re fascinating. There is usually a very long tradition and history of how the clothing became a certain way. Also, a lot of the time, every piece of the costume tells a story. You can often tell from someones clothes their age, their faith, their martial status, their wealth and about family tragedies.

The Netherlands has a lot of different traditional costumes, a few of which are actually still worn every day by a small group of women. They are disappearing though, there are no new wearers, and those still there are usually over 60. It’s understandable, people used to live in small communities their entire lives. Go to school, get married, work and die in the same small village. That world is gone though, and there’s no place for the old traditions in modern society. Even though I could not blame anyone for not wearing the costumes all day every day, I can’t feel anything but sad at the thought that in 30 years, traditional costume will be completely gone from daily life the Netherlands.

Every now and then, I’ll try to dedicate a post in here to the traditional costumes of my country. This post will be about Hindeloopen. Hindeloopen is a small town in Friesland, in the north of the country. It used to be a very wealthy sea trading town, which strongly influenced the clothing worn. The costume from Hindeloopen is probably my favourite of all Dutch costumes, but it is also the one which has been gone from daily life the longest. The last woman who wore it daily past away in 1883. The town has always kept the tradition somewhat alive though, since 1883 there have always been women who wore it on special occasions, up to today.

Because of its location on the sea and the international perspective of the inhabitants, the costume worn in Hindeloopen was actually very different than any other in the province. Its main characteristic is the brightly colored chintz fabrics and the very characteristic hats.

Which type of hat was worn was decided by marital status. This print shows one married and one unmarried woman. The one of the left is of an unmarried woman. Once she married, she would start wearing the other, higher headdress.

As dress, the women would wear a black skirt, a black bodice (/vest) with colored strings, a checkered handcerchief above this, a checkered apron, and either a long or a short chintz jacket. This is excluding the underwear of several underskirts, and sometimes the jacket was left off, in which case either an under-jacket or separate sleeves could be worn. This short clip shows a modern woman getting dressed.

The jackets are typical for Hindeloopen dress, especially the long ‘wentke’. The short jackets were called ‘kassekein’.

Its these jackets which I particularly love. The chintz fabrics were imported from India and quite expensive. They were all different, as they mostly hand painted. The general colors were red, but when in mourning, blue fabrics were used. I particularly love how you can see the top-stitching on the inside of this piece.

Most of what we know today of the original costume, we know from one artist who painted a lot of women. The picture below shows several types of mourning. Which type was worn was decided by how close the person dying was to you and how long ago it was that they passed away. There were rules for when you could change one type for another. As people lived close to the sea and the life of a fisherman or trader was dangerous, it was not always uncommon to wear mourning for very long periods of time.

The descriptions say: D: A woman in mourning with black frock at the beginning of 1700. E: A woman in deepest mourning with skirt over her head. Clothing from the last of 1700 and 1800. F: A woman in black and blue in the sleeves with first lightening of the mourning. G: A woman in black and white, with a kassekeine in the second lightening of mourning. H: A girl in daily, with the wente and a striped cloth. Third lightening of mourning.

The same patterns and colors would also appear in the homes of people. Hindeloopen furniture is still known for the beautiful flowered paint work.

Although the costume is not worn anymore on a daily basis, the organization Aald Hielpen protecting the costume is over a hundred years old itself. Almost right after the disappearance, this organization started with protecting the tradition by practicing it for special occasions.

Inspiration – 1860s mourning

I’m currently working on a black velvet 1860s balgown. It’s going to be dramatic, and a bit gothic, but should also be fabulous.  Since starting to work on this dress, I’ve been looking at a lot of images, and I’d like to share.

The main inspiration will be this dress at the met:

Out of 1860s dresses, this is the type I particularly love. A square neckline, a waistband, dramatic fabric and a lot of lace.

It still has a pretty round crinoline, but it is starting to shift more to the back, just beginning to shift into the bustle-style of the 1870s. It also has a large train, which though awsome, I’ll probably leave out for practical reasons.

Here are some photographs period showing other mourning dresses:

I especially love the veils in the second photo. Although these photos are very serious, black was actually used in ball-gowns, which are generally happy occasions.

I guess that this is good for me, as it means that black was worn for all kinds of occasion.

To wrap up the post, some more black headwear pieces.


I’ve decided to start a blog! As a creative outlet, a place to share inspirations and to show off creations. Knowing myself, it’ll probably be about a lot of different things, but mostly about historical clothing, traditional costume, fantasy and photography. Nostalgia to a place far away I’ve never been…

I hope you’ll want to travel along with me and become inspired!