Medieval accessories

When planning my late 15th century burgundian gown, the plan was always to make a ridiculously large henin to go with it. After all, the crazy hats are one of the most fun parts of late medieval fashion.

The lady in yellow has the hanging part of the veil folded back up. Note the gold loops. This image is from King René's tournament book.

I wanted something like this. I really love the floating veils. Although probably unpractical, they’re such an eye catcher. The tall henins are generally called ‘steeple henins’, and they are always worn with a veil. The veil can either just be lain on top, extending from the back, or suspended as in these pictures. These are called ‘butterfly veils’.

Chamado de Adorno borboleta

 

However, as I had an event to wear my burgundian dress to about a week after I finished it, the first hat I made was a bit more practical. I didn’t really have time to figure out how to keep the veils in place, nor to hem all that fabric for the veil, so I made a simpler, shorter henin.

It’s always good to have a more practical option at hand anyway, plus it looks adorable on my bear.

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However, I did still really want the crazy tall hat. So I’ve finally made that one.

The base is the same as the shorter henin, just lengthened, and taken from the book ‘the Medieval Tailor’s assistant’. It’s about 40cm tall, taken from a shape which would be about 50cm tall if made into a full point. I made it open up top though, so the wires would have something to come out off.

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The base is buckram, as for the other henin. Not very historically accurate, but easiest for now. From what I’ve read, the originals might’ve been woven baskets, but as I can’t weave basked reed I’m cheating.

The base is covered nearly the same as the short henin as well. Black cotton inside (because it’s easiest, though not period), silk taffeta on the outside, and a black velvet band on the inside bottom to make it grip with the velvet fillet. One change was an extra layer of black cotton between the silk and buckram, as the texture of the buckram shows through the thin silk a bit in the original. The other was that I added a round bit of millinery wire to the bottom of the cone this time, to help it keep shape a bit better.

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The cone was hand-sewn into shape. And then it was time for the wires! This was the part I’d been dreading most. Although the book advises to take 2 wires and extend those from the tip of the henin, I took a slightly different approach. This was done mostly to try to stabilize the wires as much as possible, and stop them from swinging around. Instead of taking 2 separate wires, I took one very long piece to make the shape. This means they’re connected to each other at the bottom, and makes it a lot harder for the tips to swing sideways. The other change was to make them extend quite far into the henin itself, instead of attaching them at the very tip, again for stability.

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The right shape, but they moved around way too much, even without veil.

 

Nevertheless, my first attempt was rather wobbly. The shape was okay, but in retrospect my wire was way to thin. I could’ve known, as the book advices to use 2mm wire. When I actually took that advice for the second version (2mm fencing wire was what I used), it was way better and much more stable.

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Much better. This is the final shape, before going into the henin.

 

The wires were sewn into the henin. At the bottom, the horizontal piece keeps the wire from slipping down. At the top they come a bit closer together to fit through the hole, here they are attached again. I also stitched between them, to keep the wires from pulling the top of the henin into a wider shape.

 

With the wires done, it was time for veils! I ended up using silk organza, my veil is 2m by 75cm. One edge was the selvage, the other parts were hemmed by hand to get a very narrow finish.

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The veil is pinned to the henin middle front and back. Additionally, I pinned the veil to itself after the vertical parts of the wires. This keeps it from slipping forward, and keeps the parts at the sides hanging back from the face.

 

It’s very pretty all put together, the veil definitely makes all the difference!

 

The whole construction stays on my head in several ways. First, it’s worn over a velvet fillet. This one I made for the earlier henin, and it’s cut on the bias so it can be stretched a bit and tied securely. Secondly, the velvet band on the inside of the henin creates extra grip on the fillet, keeping it from sliding. Finally, the hair is put into a high bun. My hair is quite long, so I have a substantial bun which supports the henin. All in all, it feels pretty sturdy and I can move easily without feeling like it’s going to slide off.

 

In addition to the shorter henin, I also cheated on the belt the first time, and wore a elastic one from H&M. It was a fantasy event anyway, so probably not many people noticed, but I did go on a scout for a better one.

On that same event, I found a stall from Pera Peris, a German company who do reproductions of medieval buckles, jewelry, etc. They even had the perfect buckle and matching belt end, just not with them at the time, so I ordered it online eventually.

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It’s based on this portrait by Rogier van der Weyden, and perfect in style.

Ritratto di giovane donna (Rogier van der Weyden) - Wikipedia

 

The buckle is 5,5cm wide and made for fabric belts, and I made mine out of black velvet, same as the collar of my dress. Although I like the brightly colored contrast belts as well, given that my dress is bright orange, I figured that’d be bold enough. The belt end is actually on the other side of the fabric than the buckle, as it flips over when closed. (As you see in the van der Weyden portrait as well).

 

I also made it a longer than in the portrait above, as it’s more flexible in length this way. You do see longer belts, interestingly enough they often seem to close in the back! That’s why you often don’t actually see buckles on the belts of burgundian gowns, they’re hidden behind the person. The belts tied in the back also seem longer than those left in front.

Regnault de Montauban, rédaction en prose. Regnault de Montauban, tome 1er Date d'édition : 1451-1500 Ms-5072 réserve Folio 385v

« L'istoire de Jason extraite de pluseurs livres et presentée a noble et redouté prince Phelipe, par la grace de Dieu duc de Bourgoingne et de Brabant », par Raoul Le Fèvre Auteur : Raoul Le Fèvre. Auteur du texte Date d'édition : 1401-1500

 

So now I finally have the outfit fully complete! I hope to wear it next weekend (if it stays dry, fingers crossed), some pictures of the full outfil will follow after.

Edit: A first picture of the complete outfit! See my facebook or instagram for a small video as well, as the veil moves beautifully!

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Late 15th century burgundian gown

After making a medieval smock and kirtle, it was finally time to start on the dress that started the whole medieval journey: a silk damask burgundian gown.

This project originally started with this fabric, which I found for a bargain and couldn’t resist.

2017

It took a while to decide what to use it for, but eventually this painting convinced me to make a late 15th century burgundian gown.

c.1449 Late Middle Ages- Houppelande Gown

Mine will be a little narrower through the bust and sleeves and with a wider neckline, making it a bit more late 15th century.

The journey started with figuring out the layers here, and I eventually decided to make a smock, front-lacing kirtle, placket for the neckline and burgundian with black velvet collar and cuffs.

I adapted the pattern from my kirtle to make the burgundian gown. I drafted the collar following the book the Medieval tailor’s assistant, and gave a little extra space around the waist. Not too much, as I was going for a rather fitted version of the burgundian.

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Inspiration picture for the shape and pattern adaption. Bottom left shows the kirtle pattern behind the new draft of the burgundian (front). Wider shoulder with drawn-on collar, extending the line below the waist, and slightly widened on the side as well. Bottom left is fitting with sheets! 

 

The skirt was drafted following the layout kindly shared by A dressmakers’ workshop here. Basically, the front opening is put on the straight of fabric, the skirt angling away, and only the back has a wide gore. Because the way the front is cut, the fabric falls to the front and you only need the back gore. It’s quite clever, and makes for very efficient cutting.

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My cutting lay out. Front and back are facing the same way. The gore was cut on the fold of the empty part at the top. Upside down, but as you can see on the right you have to look closely to see when the fabric turns.

 

I got a bit lucky with the fabric in that the center of the pattern was close to the selvage of the fabric, so I could cut rather efficiently despite having to pattern match. I did opt to cut the back gore the other way around than the rest of the dress. You have to look quite closely to notice the pattern is upside down there, and I now have enough fabric left to make something else with the rest.

I did all the main seams by machine, and finishing by hand. When I’d put in the back gore, however, I didn’t like how it fell. I put it too far down, when it should’ve extended directly from the waist. So unpicking happened, and I moved it up a bit, which worked a lot better.

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Left was before; right after. Much better

 

After the main construction, it was part to work on the lining including the collar. I somehow got the idea to only line the top part and hem. Not the easiest thing in retrospect, but I didn’t have enough fabric to do it otherwise, so partial lining it was! The velvet for the collar was sewn to the lining, and then the whole thing was sewn onto the dress and turned inside out. Took a little fiddling, but I got it right in the end. This tutorial by Izabella from Prior Attire was very helpful!

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The collar finished, back and front. Still has some pins at this point, I later tacked the collar to the dress to help it stay flat.

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Next up: Sleeves! I adapted the sleeves from my kirtle pattern slightly, just widening it a bit in the bottom part so it would still fit over my kirtle. The bottom of the sleeves have black velvet cuffs.

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Top right shows sleeve fitting, here shown with the dress turned inside out, so you can also see where the lining stops. Bottom right is sewing on the cuffs, left the finished sleeves.

 

After the sleeves, the final thing was the hem lining. I made it about 50cm wide, which just fit out of my fabric with careful planning. I wanted it this wide so I could pull up the skirt to my belt, as walking outside in a train at events isn’t usually the best idea.

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Top: finished inserted sleeves. Bottom left: pinning down the hem facing before hand-stitching it in place. Bottom right: tucking the skirt into my belt. Doesn’t work too well yet because the belt is elastic, but shows the general idea.

 

Of course, you cannot wear a medieval burgundian gown without some sort of crazy head wear. I eventually want to make a steeple hennin with butterfly veil, but I ended up finishing my dress 3 days before an event. Because the large hennin would take more than 3 days and it’s a good plan to have a slightly more practical head wear choice as well, I made a shorter henin for the event.

The lady in yellow has the hanging part of the veil folded back up. Note the gold loops. This image is from King René's tournament book.

The crazy steeple hennin with butterfly veil. Unpractical, but fun!

Google Image Result for http://resources42.kb.nl/MIMI/MIMI_MMW_10A11/MIMI_MMW_10A11_235R_MIN_2.JPG

For now, I went for something more like this.

First up was a fillet of black velvet. Cut on the bias so it stretches around the head, this is worn as a type of head-band and serves to keep the head dress in place. It also has the very characteristic black loop over the forehead. I tried to turn a velvet tube inside-out, but my pulling thread broke half-way through so I finished the loop by hand.

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Black velvet fillet with black forehead loop.

 

The pattern for the hennin is from the Medieval tailor’s assistant again, the base made out of buckram. I covered it in black silk, with a cotton black lining (because I ran out of linen). The side edges are turned over, the top and bottom finished with binding. Velvet at the bottom, to make it grip to the fillet better. The sides were stitched together by hand. The finishing touch is a black velvet frontlet draped over the front of the hennin. I might make a veil as well in the future, but as I didn’t have the fabric yet I left it off for now.

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Making the hennin. Top shows the buckram (testing for size) and the lining before it’s stitched together. Bottom left is the finished hennin, bottom right is the complete thing modeled by my bear.

 

The finishing touch was to make a placket for the front of the dress out of black linen and silk. This was a day before the event, so I didn’t really take pictures. I ended up pinning the placket to the burgundian as that worked best, but it still wrinkled and shifted a bit. So I think I’ll be extending the placket to go around the body, as was my original plan.

I’m very happy with how the dress turned out, and although I have some small projects left to update it, it’s now wearable! I ended up using a black elastic belt while I look for a proper medieval version, but it actually looks surprisingly okay for something so modern.

Thanks to my friend Sophia for taking some pictures last weekend at Castlefest! I took down the small train for the images, but wore it up the rest of the day to prevent the people behind me from stepping on it.

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