As I mentioned I’m very excited to try out Mathew Gnagy’s methods and apply that to a late-15th/early 16th century kirtle. That said.. I will need back out some information from “how they did it in the 17th century” to make sure the garment I’m creating is as true to my period as I can make it.
Juan de Alcega’s 1589 tailors’ pattern book
Mathew Gnagy has a version of this which is slated to be included in his next book (due out by the end of the year).
I’m terribly excited about this because of the super narrow straps that go over the arm. Very late in the Hannah dress project I realized that my neckline was incorrect for the period (1485-1515) and location (Brittany) I was trying to reproduce. I had honestly never paid such close attention to getting the time/place right on a garment before and doing so suddenly brought up that I’d gotten a detail totally wrong. Well, ok, mostly wrong. The neckline I’d used would be correct for a middle/lower class gal from Brittany but the upper-class gals were wearing the much narrower straps.
Alcega (and by extention, Mathew Gnagy’s) pattern has this very narrow strap. I buzzed about with eagerness to reproduce this before that little voice in the back of my head cleared its throat and forced me to consider the sides of the bodice. This bodice is conic. The sides are absolutely straight and have no indication that the bodice would be fitted to cup/support the breasts. Instead this appears to use the much more 17th century idea of shaping everyone to be a cone. It looks like the breasts will fill the cone and there will be no give in the pattern to hold the breasts up.
I spent about a day mulling this over.
Either I’m wrong.. and all my efforts at “fitting” bodices has been wasted effort.. or I’m right.. and they did something different (which eventually morphed into this conic shape).
Alcega’s pattern book “Libro de Geometria, Pratica Y Traca” (Book of the Practice of Tailoring– Measuring and Marking Out) by Juan de Alcega, printed in Madrid in 1589. This details Spanish patterns. Much later time period, very different location.
I started by skimming “Tudor Tailor” and “The Queen’s Servants”. Both of those are focused on “English” dress styles later than I’m aiming for.. and both of those use the “conic” layout for the bodice.
Next I skimmed through “Drei Schnittbücher“. These patterns are from tailoring manuals from about 1590 from Upper Austria. Jackpot. Four of the dress patterns include an indication of fitting for the breast. Coincidentally, they all show the shaping happening on only the center front seam. These are contemporary to Alcega.. and still in the wrong location.
Finally I skimmed through my pin board “(black) velvet hat, Europe 1485-1515” and honestly I just don’t know. There’s a lot of pictures there that look conic. There are a few that don’t.
Well, so okay. I guess my previous efforts have not been wasted.. but this time I’m going to try out a new style of bodice for my next kirtle. We’ll see how that turns out.