Posted by: Lucrece | March 24, 2010

An unseamly problem – Transition gown the first

After spending quite a bit of time collecting images and staring at them over and over again on a nightly basis for the past few weeks (can you say OCD!)  I’m finally ready to start patterning. 

My current theory is that the cut of this gown differs a little bit from the earlier cotehardie / gothic fitted gown / kirtle I normally make (which consists of four rectangles  – two front pieces and two back,  and four paired gores  – front, back and both sides). 

Before I launch off into cutting my nice and somewhat expensive velvet,  I’ve decided to make a working class version of this gown out of wool for practice.  I bought some lovely mustard yellow flannel on ebay that I’m absolutely thrilled with. 

Unlike a decade or two earlier – fewer images from this period seem to be drawn showing seams.  None the less there are two drawings which show some intriguing hints. 

So far this is what I’ve found:

Some gowns clearly fasten in the front, on the rest it is not clear (might be side laced,  might be back)

The neckline is wide and square, the sleeves appears to be a set in sleeve with a slightly dropped shoulder. Both for over and base layer gowns.  Base layer may be short-sleeved.

Two pictures (both over gowns) show a deep V in the back.  I doubt this is the case with the working class single/base layer gown (based on gut instinct only).

The desireable profile has a somewhat inverted cone shape for the upper body which appears to be the precursor to this element in Tudor and Elizabethan fashion.  The front of the gown skirt has less fullness, sometime curving over the abdomen – but generally much flatter in front than previously.  Starting at the sides and toward the back much more fullness is apparent (baby got back!), again a foreshadowing of the fullness in back created in Tudor fashion by bum rolls and cartridge pleating.

Both working class and more aristocratic fashion is shown floor length in the front lengthening to a train in the back (though how much is artistic licence is always the questions).  The train for working class is just a big of extra length while for higher end over-gowns it seems be the length from the floor back up to the waist – as it’s often depicted tucked into the belt in the back .

Two pictures show an intriguing seam  – somewhat like a princess seam from the front of the armpit to the waist – and it’s this seam I’m interested in designing.  Here’s one:


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