17 October 2006

15th c. Flemish working-class a la van der Weyden's Magdalena

Weyden gown
Originally uploaded by Catrijn.
This is the first outfit I made specifically for the SCA and with an eye to historical accuracy. Previously, I'd done a fair bit of sewing, but directed toward the theatrical, Renfest, and cosplay end of the spectrum.

My direct inspiration for this gown was van der Weyden's 'Deposition', although I should note that this style is not restricted to depictions of Mary Magdalene. It seems to have been the basic working woman's dress of the 15th century; without oversleeves when working in the fields or the kitchen, with sleeves when in more public settings.

The gown itself is made of a lightweight worsted wool, unlined. I used a four-panel, three-gore (sides and back) construction, with raglan-cut short sleeves. I have material for a fourth gore that I have always intended to set into the front seam, but it seems increasingly unlikely that I ever will. The gown is not a self-supporting one - this is partly because it is unlined, and wool is moderately stretchy, but mostly because it was not sufficiently fitted for that. As a result, I now always wear this dress with a more tightly fitted linen underdress that provides support. Ideally, that would be the lining for the gown rather than a separate item, but it is functionally equivalent. The gown laces through 8mm sterling silver jump rings, soldered closed. They were bright and shiny when new, but quickly tarnished to a nice dark patina. This was all handsewn with silk thread.

The red pin-on sleeves are a poly-cotton damask and machine sewn. Each has two fabric-ball buttons at the wrist for a closer fit. The head wrap is a simple, very long rectangle of fine linen. The leather belt was made for me by my husband, using purchased brass reproduction hardware. I am also wearing a linen chemise (long sleeved, mid-calf length) and linen knee-high hose.

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