Posted by: Lucrece | April 17, 2011

Burgundian V-necked Gown

A friend of mine asked me to help her with patterning and making a Burgundian gown.  Before starting on her expensive and gorgeous brocade I thought it might be a good idea to try the dress myself in a less expensive fabric.

I have had mixed feelings about this gown as I went along.  I normally do not like to use man-made fibers and I like my clothing to feel like clothing not a costume.  None-the-less court apparel is a bit like a costume anyway.


The main fabric is a deep-red micro-fiber velvet backed with a white cotton canvas which makes it look like it’s lined.  I liked the way the light caught the folds in the store making it look like something out of van der Weyden.

The fur collar and cuffs are “budge” the period name for lamb or sheepskin with the wool left on.  Budge was a cheaper fur in the 15th century, it’s not too likely that a lady who could afford a velvet gown would have it trimmed in a low-end fur but since I’m using a man-made velvet I wasn’t prepared to spring for a more expensive fur and I preferred the look of the real budge over a faux fur.

The hem, however, is made from a long pile faux astrakhan (lamb fur)  which matches the real fur fairly well (I needed a LOT for the hem, couldn’t afford the real stuff for that!).

Design and Pattern.

Some time ago I worked with a group to recreate Mary of Hapsburg’s Coronation gown seen here.

When I look at M of H’s gown it always seems out of place for the 1520’s.  I can’t help but wonder if it, or at least its design, was reused and is of an older style.   Many of its features, the deep V neck, the collar, the cuffs, the overall silhouette have some similarities to Burgundian fashions from 40 or 50 years prior.

In this project I wanted to explore the idea of using the same cut to create a Burgundian Gown.  Mary’s gown has a waist seam.  While it’s generally thought Burgundian Gown’s did not we usually see them worn with a wide belt which would tend to obscure a waist seam if there was one.

Waist seams on kirtles are depicted in art work from the period so it would seem that the idea of making the dress in two parts was not unknown.

Here you can see the layout of the Mary of Hapsburg gown.  A bodice with a full circle skirt attached.  The waist is off-set toward the front of the circle making the front floor length and the back longer.

For my gown I’m using about 2/3 of a circle instead.  Unlike the M of H gown, the front and sides are floor length and the skirts only extend into a train at the back as this is the silhouette most often seen for Burgundian.

Note the skirts for the lady on the left.  They appear fairly narrow from the front, are floor length at the sides and the train extends out the  back.

Here you can see my pattern pieces for the gown.

Below is a slide show of the gown in production.

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  1. Fantastic! I’m planning a dress much like this for myself. Your pattern pieces are going to be SO helpful when I finally get around to cutting!

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