Spotty 1470’s-90’s Swabian gown

(completed February 2014) Photo of gown taken by Amelia Fabian

spotty swabian    P1050004

This was based off a couple of images that I found in some of the Master of the Housebook’s work (1470-1490, below, on the left), as well as one of the gowns in the Babenberg family Tree (1489-92, below, on the right), by Hans Part. Basically, I wanted a dressy style of gown that would be comfortable enough to be worn during the warmer weather, for formal events. The design  became a hybrid of the spotted gowns in the left image, and the green gown on the right, with the idea for the sleeves being pulled from the blue gown (pic on right) :

Detail from 'Niederwildjagd' by Housebook master of castle Wolfegg 1489    Hans Part. Identity Unknown - 3 (Babenberger Stammbaum Detail).  c. 1489-1492.

Images above: Master of the Housebook, (1470-90), detail from Wolfegg Castle; Hans Part (1489-92), Babenberg Family Tree, detail.

The spotty material is a silk/cotton blend, with a metallic brocade weft.

After going on a search for spotty fabrics, I started to notice them *everywhere* in period, (but that’s a separate writeup).

The body of the spotty gown was cut in a rather similar way to a 15th century kirtle – the bodice and skirt were as one, with no waist seam. Two panels at the front, and two at the back. The gown is fully lined with a red cotton linen blend, but not interlined, except for at the front opening where the lacing rings are (I used a strip of sturdy cotton tape for that either side). The bodice however is cut to sit open at the front – I don’t think it would close all the way, if I wanted it to.

The sleeves are cut as ¾ length, and are lined with a lightweight red silk (this allows the chemise sleeves to be pulled through with more ease – the smooth silk doesn’t catch as much as if I had used the same cotton linen blend as the rest of the gown. I placed the sleeve seam at the back of the arm, in a similar way to modern jacket sleeves, mostly because of some of the evidence I found placing this seam here. It also makes more sense when trying to make sense of the odd cutaway section of the sleeve, to allow the chemise to puff through.

The panels flare out from the hips, and I’ve used triangular gores in the skirt to give it a lovely full hemline at the bottom, without any bulk at the top, around an 8m hem circumference.

The neckline/front opening and edges of the sleeves are edged with a lightweight copper silk taffeta that I cut on the bias to ensure it sat smoothly (same weight that I used to line the sleeves). Essentially, to put it all together, I used the machine to sew the outers to the corresponding linings, turned them out the right way (except for the skirt hem), ironed them, then whip stitched the pieces (right side together) by hand. I found I really liked this technique, as it makes the seams and seam allowance sit flat and smoothly, and seems to strengthen the seams themselves. In areas likely to be subject to pulling or strain (like the bodice, sleeves and armholes) I stitched an extra row inside the gown, stitching the linings together. This seems to have done the trick, it hasn’t pulled or ripped as yet (touchwood).

spotty Swabian front spotty Swabian back spotty Swabian front with hat


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