Monday, 25 August 2014

A tenative step toward the 15th century

My weekend plan was to work on J’s banyan that I almost finished cutting out a long time ago. An old UFO in other words. I had a nagging feeling that I hadn’t cut all the pieces because I didn’t have enough fabric, but as it turned out I do have enough, only I have to pierce the lining. And the lining is in very slipper silk satin, hence my lack of enthusiasm. I have now finally cut out everything and started to sew it all together, currently muttering over the gussets over the arm, but then a looming cold drove me into the arms of a welcoming sofa instead. So instead of sewing I spent two days under a blanket draped with a cat, or two or a stray dog. 

I also joined The Manuscript Challenge on Facebook. The idea is to choose a garment from a manuscript, or similar from any medieval period up until 1500. From the day you upload the chosen picture to the challenge you have one year to complete the complete outfit and you have to make visually as close to the picture as you are able to. There are no rules about material though. This is very challenging for me as I find it extremely hard to keep to one visual source when I make my costumes. So that alone will be a new experience. I am also venturing into a completely new time period, which is why I joined the challenge. I have wanted to make a late 15th century outfit for some time and I hope this will make it happen and a year seems to be plenty of time. (We’ll see what I will say about that in ten months…) I’m not a complete novice in the 15th century in theory, I do know quite a lot about fashion history outside my comfort zones, but I don’t have the fine-tuning. So I want to make something that a) I like and b) is something I can pull off. So I decided on this outfit.

It is from a depiction of The Massacre of the Innocents, part of The Adoration of the Magi by Hugo van der Goes dated to the 1470’s. You can see the whole painting here. It is not from a manuscript, but the challenge to add or similar and no one has protested about my choice, so I guess it is all right. The outfit seems quite simple with some interesting details and is giving me a few things to puzzle over. I guess those of you who know the period finds it all very easy, but remember, for me it is all new. Another point in its favour is that it would be fairly easy to build up a small wardrobe from it. Another set of loose sleeves, an apron, other headdresses. I also quite like Burgundian gowns, which I figure would work well to wear over the kirtle.
Found at On Cleavage and Breast Mounds
What kind of pattern should I use for the kirtle? On the painting it seems virtually seamless, which of course isn’t possible. A fitted garment like that need seams and other paintings show them. Being much curvier than the woman on the painting I need to figure out what would be the best pattern for me. 
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How do the blue sleeves stay put? I confess that I didn’t realize until after I choose this outfit that the sleeves aren’t pinned on top f the short sleeves of the kirtle, but goes underneath. My assumption is that they are basted to the kirtle, or possibly, to the shift.
The artist, the girl in White have sleeves that seems to go underneath the short sleeves.
Diptych of The Fall of Man and The Redemption by Hugo van der Goes, c. 1480
What about the shift anyway? They seem to have had long sleeves and there are pictures of women with no loose sleeves. But there are also this version with a sleeves and snug bodice.
Friedrich von Schwaben, origin: Stuttgart(?), Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg, Cod. Pal. Germ. 345, f 247r, c. 1470 found at Medieval supportive underwear
One of the reasons I have balked for pre-corset fashion is that I really need breast support. I have tried the snugly fitted shift-method and found it both uncomfortable as making me look like a sausage. After the Lengberg brassiere was found a new vista has opened up for me and Katafalk has made a really lovely version that seems to give good support as well as looking remarkably like the pictures. She has smaller breasts than I have, but I still think this would work for me and as she so kindly offer her pattern for free, I have a pattern to start from instead of doing it from scratch. What I’m wondering about is if this brassiere was worn instead of a shift or with? Obviously the pictures of women in just shift and kirtle shows long sleeves on the shift.
Bat-Sheba bathing
Except this one...
And on “my” painting the shift is obviously a bit more disarrayed at the neckline than something that fits tightly. As for now I’m inclined to make booth, opting to make the long sleeved shift in finer linen to avoid bulk.
 I also Think that it's pretty clear that the kirtle should be laced up properly, I'm not going to go around half-laced.
I also wonder what the black that is visible under the blue sleeves are. Another pair of sleeves? Black cuffs? Though not cuffs for the blue sleeves and I have never heard of black cuffs on shift. There is also a possibility that we are seeing liberties of the artist, I guess it is possible that the black is there to really make the hands pop out. It might also be meant as a shadow from the blue sleeve, but I mighty odd shadow, if you ask me.
The headgear baffles me as well. Is it a sewn cap or is it just a piece of fabric that have been pleated and pinned? Oh well, I have some time to figure it out.
Then there is the belt, which seems pretty straightforward, but what is the most likely object hanging from it? A purse?
You see that I have a few things to ponder. I also need to figure out stockings and shoes, even if we can’t seem them on the picture.


Anonymous said...

I think the lady in bed is wearing a bra over her shift, it makes sense to wear it bore the shift as shifts are simple to make but the bra isn't and this way you wouldn't need to wash the bra so often.

I'm a d cup and have two kirtle made pre lengberg finds one wool one silk, both are lined in thick linen and cut very tight just below the bust ( where your bra fits) they're very supportive and I can wear them all day

Isis said...

opusangelicum: I see your Point but wouldn't that be very bulky? Though, of course, later stays were always worn over the shift.

I have a HHH cup and I have tried the fitted kirtle method before and it just doen't give me support unless I overfit them and that is neither pretty nor comfortable. So I would like to have my support already fixed, so to speak, when I fit the kirtle. :)

Sandra & Edward said...

Could the belt-like item be a chatelaine?

Rowenna said...

Such a cool project--I will be watching!

Dragonhawk said...

I would guess a chatelaine of some sort is hanging off the belt; it's just partly hidden.

Isis said...

Sandra & Edward and Dragonhawk: I think it might be. :)

Rowenna. Please do! :D

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