1490s sleeve progress

Much too soon to declare victory, but I’m making progress.

I sort of settled on the question of whether historical gowns with big sleeves have the sleeve at the back of the arm (the way close sleeves like on the 1320 dress are made) or under the arm (like many modern clothes).  Reenactors mostly seem to do the seam under, and the one period picture that seemed to have any hint looked like the seam was at the bottom of the cuff. No picture had any visible seam.

Also, I looked at Medieval Tailor’s Assistant again and there’s a man’s garment (“short gown with dagged sleeve”) with about the right sleeve shape and a woman’s garment (“fashionable gown”) with a floor-length sleeve cuff. It turns out they use the same drafting instructions, and have the seam under the arm.

So I’ve drawn that up and, for a little while, I get to think about something other than sleeves as I draft the rest of the pattern and definitely don’t panic about wanting this to be done in three weeks. It’ll be fine. The pattern is the hardest part. I’m sure it is.  There’s no gathering or pleating in my future, at least. Should all be straight sewing. Heck! It’s not fitted, which means I don’t need to pattern the left and right sides differently!

Update an hour or so later: while I’m posting progress shots, here’s a couple of the bodice pattern! This is the “flared gown” from Medieval Tailor’s Assistant.

Making the bodice pattern from draped (“body block”) patterns.

Finished patterns for bodice and collar.

It didn’t come out perfectly– the armscye came out 1.75″ bigger than the sleeve I drafted. My theory is to just add … Wait, math moment. Add half of that to the height of the sleeve pattern, which is not what I wrote in my notes.  As an added bonus, this should take care of the bit near the armpit that I drew half a cm too narrow.

Thank you, math, for helping me be just the right amount ostentatious. I’ll let you, dear readers, know how the muslin of the bodice, collar, and sleeves goes soon.

(In much less interesting news, this is the first post I’ve written on my phone! I can’t figure out how to do a “read more” jump in this interface.)

1490s sleeve progress

1490s sleeve frustration

Well, I’m stumped on sleeves, so I’m trying to feel better by doing research.  (About sleeves.)

But first– the good news!  I found a dress that is fashionable in brocade with fur trim or lining, front-opening, has big sleeves that will fit over my brass aglets, is not closely fitted in the waist, there’s a pattern for it (or something very close) in The Medieval Tailor’s Assistant, and also I like how it looks.  How’s that for a win?

Here it is:

Portrait d'une princesse tenant un faucon sur la main droite

Source: Louvre.  The museum only gives the date as “Early sixteenth century” and the place as “Netherlands,” but… I’ll take it.

What makes this dress different from every other big-V-neck “Burgundian gown” with fur trim and big fur-lined sleeves?  Many of those open from the neck past the belt, but until I found this one, all my examples seemed to have openings that stopped well before knee level, with the fur edges getting thinner and disappearing where the opening stops.  In this portrait, the fur edges get wider as they descend from the belt, making it believable that the dress is open all the way down the front. Continue reading “1490s sleeve frustration”


1490s Sleeves

I wrote a bunch of this in January, then, apparently, forgot all about it.  This is not the 1490s fashion draft post I thought I had waiting!  Anyway, some sleeve talk.

This project consumed a lot more of my time and attention than I expected, although some of that actually went to starting a new job.  (Also, the dress was not the only project I was doing for the same deadline!  I’ll post some of the writing I did as part of the same project at some point too.)

But, for now, here are a collection of portraits whose sleeves I studied to determine the proper way of closing detached, open sleeves in and around the 1490s in Italy, plus some side commentary about necklaces.  Note that this is not a representative sample of common styles, or of the full range of sleeve options, just a selection of portraits that could teach me what I needed to know.  Except the weird back of shoulder shape.  I didn’t figure that one out.

Continue reading “1490s Sleeves”

1490s Sleeves