New Old Orange Kirtle

When I was a teenager I made a back lacing kirtle with a million hand bound eyelets up the back.

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I had planned long sleeves, but once I saw this image I decided to skip the sleeves

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I never wore it once, because I changed re-enactment groups before I had a chance and my new group only did Italian.

The only person who ever wore this dress was a presenter for a TV show who came to our house to interview my family on our hobby. She saw us all dressed up and wished she had a dress too.

So I decided to convert it to a front laced Italian dress. Unfortunately when I laced the dress up closed I had ‘armpit spillage’ and I knew I’d have to do more work to re-wear the bodice.

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So I never wore it.

Now, over ten years later, I am with a group that allows me to do non-Italian clothing. While tidying up I came across the half-finished dress. I remembered originally I had planned on making long sleeves for this kirtle, which meant I still had the fabric

Now I’m on the other side of 30, my body isn’t the same shape- or size- as it was when I was a teenager. And my sewing (and photoshop) skills are better than what they were. So I’ve pulled the bodice off the skirt completely and I’m hoping to have enough fabric to make another bodice from scratch. I aim to make a front lacing bodice and short sleeves. I might need to do some piecing but piecing is period.

It’s like getting a new dress for the work of bodice and sleeves, and I still LOVE the colour.

Oh, and the weekend before my next event is TOTALLY the right time to be starting this project.

 

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Gamurra construction notes

As I mentioned on my facebook page, I’ve started going through my Cathelina Di Alessandri blog and have been putting up construction notes for all my clothing. For most of the posts this has involved going through my old live journal posts and re-writing them which has been interesting.

But now you can read about how I cut and sew my gamurre skirts here.

You can read about the construction here of my yellow gamurra

You can read about the construction of the jaffa dress here.

You can read about the construction of my red gamura here.

Once I do my blue gamurra and my brown gamurra that will be all the gamurre done!

I have also, FINALLY put the fazzoletto page, which I thought I would share here in full text also.

Fazzoletto

This item, known better by it’s English name partlet among many costumers, is what a modern person might refer to as a ‘dickie’. Among the lower classes it would likely have been linen (or possibly wool) and worn for practical purposes.

The story goes that the upper classes often wore them in response to sumptuary laws that determined their necklines must not be below a certain level. With a fazzoletto they could have their gamurra neckline as low as they liked and used a sheer silk fazzoletto to bring their neckline in line with the rules while flaunting them at the same time.

You can see the fazzoletto worn either under the gamurra or over it in period art but you might need to look close– sometimes they are hard to spot.

1475-1477 Domenico Ghirlandaio Annunciation of the Death of St. Fina (detail) .jpg

This detail from Domenico Ghirlandaio’s 1475-1477 Annunciation of the Death of St. Fina shows lower class women wearing a simple cut of opaque fabric.

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Leonardo Da Vinci’s Portrait of Ginevra Benci dated 1474 shows the fazzoletto worn tucked into the bodice.

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This portrait by Ghirlandaio suggests that if the fazzoletto was worn over the gamurra bodice it was worn under the outer garment.

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Domenico Ghirlandaio’s  Portraitdated 1485 shows the fazzoletto was sometimes held closed with a pin or button.

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Agnolo e Donnino del Mazziere’s Portrait of a Young Woman shows a very sheer fazzoletto over the bodice of the gamura.

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Domenico Ghirlandaio’s  Portrait of a Lady dated to 1490 also shows a sheer fazzoletto over the bodice.

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Sebastiano Mainardi’s  Portrait of a Woman also dated 1490 shows a thicker, but still sheer fazzoletto edged with a decorative stitch.

My pattern is below:

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Fazzoletto pattern by Cathelina di Alessandri

It’s not a pattern you can print and use, but hopefully it will help with the general shape.

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Fazzoletto by Cathelina di Alessandri

I have only made one fazzoletto which I made in silk, and hemmed it with silk thread using a decorative stitch.

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Black Kirtle and Red Pin on Sleeves

It’s been AGES but I’ve finally knuckled down and worked on the black kirtle.

I also sat down this afternoon and cut out and finished a pair of red wool sleeves. I used two layers of the wool I used for my gamurra and lined them with my never-ending supply of soft brown linen

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I also finished off the black kirtle. Well, almost finished, I need to lower the neckline (it’s a bit high) and face the neckline once it’s lowered, but wearable for next weekend at least once I take out the white stitching (I used for guidelines, fabric marking pens don’t show up on this fabric!)

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The waist seam looks uneven, but it’s not, I am, and Cecil is not.

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The other thing I’ve been working (with the help of a friend) on is curtains for our new medieval tent, I think they will look spectacular!

The Underskirt Theory

In this theory a underskirt is worn, either between the kirtle and gown or under the kirtle. In the former just the gown needs to be lifted to show the differing fabric at the hem. In the latter both gown and kirtle are lifted to show the underskirt.

1495-1500, UNKNOWN MASTER, Flemish, Lamentation, Museum of Art, Santa Barbara
1495-1500, UNKNOWN MASTER, Flemish, Lamentation, Museum of Art, Santa Barbara. The women in the back, right is wearing a dress kirtled up to show a rich brocade underskirt.
1470s , UNKNOWN MASTER, Flemish, Deposition, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne detail
1470s , UNKNOWN MASTER, Flemish, Deposition, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne (detail) In the bottom left you see a lady wearing a side laced kirtle. The red showing at the hem could be an underskirt. When both gown and kirtle are lifted the smooth front of the kirtle would show at the neckline while the red underskirt would snow at the hem.

 

The Raising Two Skirts Two Kirtle Theory

This is another theory where two kirtles are worn underneath the gown. In this theory, however, the fabric seen filling in the neckline of the gown is from the over-kirtle. When the skirts of the gown are lifted the skirts of the over-kirtle are also lifted, and the fabric showing at the hem is thus the skirt of the under-kirtle. There are a few images showing a rich fabric kirtle under a plainer one, and often the fabric showing at the hem is a richer fabric than at the neckline.

1495-1500, UNKNOWN MASTER, Flemish, Lamentation, Museum of Art, Santa Barbara
1495-1500, UNKNOWN MASTER, Flemish, Lamentation, Museum of Art, Santa Barbara. The women in the back, right is wearing a dress kirtled up to show a rich brocade underdress.

 

1463, MASTER of the Life of the Virgin, Visitation, Alte Pinakothek, Munich detail
1463, MASTER of the Life of the Virgin, Visitation, Alte Pinakothek, Munich (detail) The lady on the left is wearing a side laced kirtle over a brocade kirtle. If she was to wear a v neck gown over this and raise the skirt of the gown and the red kirtle then it would give the look of brocade at the hem, flat red at the front.
1470s , UNKNOWN MASTER, Flemish, Deposition, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne detail
1470s , UNKNOWN MASTER, Flemish, Deposition, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne (detail) In the bottom left you see a lady wearing a side laced kirtle over a red kirtle. When both gown and kirtle are lifted the smooth front of the kirtle would show at the neckline while the red underkirtle would snow at the hem.

The Differing Bodice and Skirt Theory

This theory is also a subset of the underdress theory and is another way of explaining the difference between the fabrics of the hem of the underdress and the bodice. The theory goes that the bodice and skirt are two different colours. This is perhaps the least common theory of all. Waist seams only appear to come into common use (according to contemporary art) in the 1460s so the method of making a dress with a waist seam was still relatively new. Had they made the leap from waist seam to a separate bodice and skirt from differing fabrics?

That said there are a few pictures that suggest they had, however there is no proof that they wore these under a Burgundian gown. It is, however, a valid interpretation.

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One interpretation of this is a lady wearing a dress with an orange bodice and green skirt. I think it may be an orange jacket over a green skirt, but the picture is from here if you’d like a closer look.
1489, German, Die Geubert der Maria, Schwabischer Meister
1489, German, Die Geubert der Maria, Schwabischer Meister. Could ths be a differing bodice and skirt?

The Applied Border Theory

This Theory is a subset of the underdress only theory. The theory goes that sometimes when the Burgundian gown is lifted in paintings you see a different colour at the hem to at the neckline. This difference is because the undergown has an applied boarder or frill on the skirt of a different fabric to the rest of the kirtle. Often the fabric shown at the hem is far richer than that shown at the neckline of the gown so this gives the wearer a way of using a very rich, expensive fabric and showing it off without using much of the fabric. Or perhaps if the hem on a kirtle wore out or became badly stained and was replaced with a different fabric. One quite often sees applied, ruffled bands of the same fabric to a kirtle, so the practice did exist.

1450-1480 Flemish, Bibliothèque de Genève Ms, fr, 64, La fleur des histoires by Jean Mansel
1450-1480 Flemish, Bibliothèque de Genève Ms. fr. 64: La fleur des histoires by Jean Mansel. Here the skirt of the gown is lifted up far enough to show the red boarder on the kirtle.
1460, EYCK, Barthélemy d',René d'Anjou, The Book of Tournaments, Manuscript (Ms. français 2695), 386 x 298 mm (folio size), Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris detail
1460, EYCK, Barthélemy d’,René d’Anjou, The Book of Tournaments, Manuscript (Ms. français 2695), 386 x 298 mm (folio size), Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris (detail).        Here the gown has an applied boarder of a different fabric which suggests the practice of bordering a dress with a different colour was at least known and done.
1475, MINIATURIST, French, Le Chansonnier Cordiforme (Chansonnier de Jean de Montchenu), Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris
1475, MINIATURIST, French, Le Chansonnier Cordiforme (Chansonnier de Jean de Montchenu), Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. This image is small, but you can see the applied brocade boarder on the black gown. Again, showing there was at least a historic practice of applying a broacade boarder to a skirt.