16th Century, Antwerpen

Rust Antwerpen Market Gown

Rust linen Antwerpen gown started May 16, 2018. First wearing May 27, 2018. In October 2019 I removed the yellow fake kirtle bodice and added rings inside the waist band so that the center front of the gown can stay up. 

I need a new dress. Well a whole new wardrobe, but one thing at a time.

Last year I lost 65 lbs (I am doing low-carb, it works well for me) and I’m still trying to lose weight so I need something that’s relatively forgiving of size change. I also don’t want to “just wear a tunic”. So in casting about I ended up looking at the images from the Antwerp market in the late 16th century. Those look like they’ll work well.

I want:
– A gown, probably worn over a supportive kirtle (though not always)(Kenya orange gown, yellow kirtle)
– Waisted kirtle with wide laces over the belly (Bodice has 3 layers of linen: fashion fabric, interlining and lining)(skirt is a single layer of fabric which is pieced to make the skirt panels and french seamed to join the panels)
– solid metal lacing rings to hold the laces
– Laced top down in a zig zag(not cross laced or ladder laced)

This will be worn with a bunch of accessories:
Red Wool Antwerpen Jacket
Halscleet – White linen partlet with collar
Huve – White coif

Inspirational Images

Primarily Joachim Beuckelaer. Also Pieter Aertsen, Jan Van Horst, Huybrecht Beuckelaer and Joachim Wtewael.

Rust Antwerpen gown Todo:

– (done) Figure out body pattern (Start with Modern Maker bodice v.2 p.120. Adjust to have flat front and wide laces.)
– (done) Cut out fashion fabric (Exterior fabric medium weight rust-colored linen (Fabric-store.com Kenya IL019))
– (done) Cut out interlining.(Interlining heavy weight gold linen (Fabric-store.com Gold 4C22))
– (done) baste body interlining to fashion fabric and iron flat.
– (done) Sew side seam and sleeve straps and prick stitch open.
– (done) Make bias binding 2″ wide (~110″) from the fashion fabric.
– (done) Add reinforcement bias silk (2″ wide) to the center front opening area of the bodice (back stitch the front edge in the seam allowance, herringbone the back to the interlining). (in retrospect I’m not entirely certain this silk is necessary)
– (done) Bind edges of the bodice (flat bias on neck/armsesye, folded bias on center front opening).
– (done) Figure out skirt pattern (Used Modern Maker skirt v.2 p.162-163 but had to piece it to get the full width.)
– (done) Cut out skirt panels and piercings (CF is on the straight and is on a fold).
– (done) Piece the skirt pieces together and iron the seams open (all the piecings are on a selvedge so no need to further finish these seams.
– (done) Stitch skirt together with french seams(bias to straight on the sides, bias to bias on the back).
– (done) Finish the opening slits which are on either side of the front panel of the skirt (finish both sides of the opening).
– (done) Attach the rest of the skirt to bottom of bodice with pleats along the center back.
– (done) Finish the top of the front panel and add ties.
– (done) Add metal rings on front edge (unscientific overview looks like there’s usually 5 rings on one side and 4 rings on the other. I will add rings at the top/bottom edges of the bodice and then evenly divide the remaining area)
– (done) Mark the hem.
[tear the skirt entirely off, recut the front to make it less wide, add another skirt panel to the back to make it wider at the top so there are pleats across my center back, make a quick side-laced bodice out of the yellow underlayer fabric and attach the bottom of the front skirt panel to the bottom of the new bodice]
– (done) Hem dress.
[first wearing of dress]
– (done) Cut out bodice lining. (Lining medium weight natural linen (Fabric-store.com natural IL019).)
– (done) Attach bodice lining
– Re-hem dress.

Progress pictures


IL019 KENYA Softened – 100% Linen 5 yds $40.95 (purchased Aug 2013)
4C22 AUTUMN GOLD Softened – 100% Linen 1 yd – $8.90 (purchased June 2016)
IL019 Natural Softened – 100% Linen – 1 yd ~$8 (from stash)
Tawney silk taffeta from Puresilks for reinforcement strips (originally it was $20/yd I only used two bias strips 1.25 inches wide by 12 inches long)
9 Small Lacing rings from Renaissance Fabrics $0.10 each – $1

Lessons Learned

– In order to draft this bodice I first made a single-layer linen mockup of the pattern from The Modern Maker: Vol. 2 with a flat front which I used for my underkirtle and then marked on that mockup where I thought the edges of the front laces should fall. I then cut that part off and used this new abbreviated front as the pattern for my bodice. In all I think I eliminated ~4.5″ from each side of the center front.
– I am again reminded, when using interlining in a garment, cut the fashion fabric with the pattern and then cut the interlining with the fashion fabric. This results in an interlining which is subtly bigger than the fashion fabric so that when you apply the fashion fabric to the interlining it adds a little bit of stored energy and forces the fashion fabric to stretch to the dimensions of the interlining. I didn’t do it wrong this time, but I was reminded of this when I was applying the interlining and got a bit of tension on the edges. The tension mostly relaxed once I ironed it, but it’s a nice reminder. It seems to me that even relaxed that tension will keep the fashion fabric taut to the interlining.
– It took two tries to get the bias edging on the bodice right. I finally asked Teh Intarwebz and a quilting site saved my bacon. Putting bias on a rounded neckline is easy. These eccentric angles make it challenging.
– First time trying it on. smock needs wider sleeve at the wrist. Back skirt panels need to be wider at the top. Front skirt panels need to be narrower at the top. Front opening needs to be more narrower at the bottom ~1″ instead of straight.
– Eleventh hour sewing: When Kitty came over to mark the hem I wore my underkirtle and stuffed a bit of the yellow fabric under this gown’s laces to cover the front laces of the underkirtle. It worked but I HATED it. It was NOT flattering. So ok I puzzled over this for a day and finally decided that what I need to do is to make a side-lacing underkirtle bodice from the yellow fabric. The biggest hold up on this has always been that I dearly hate making something side laced because it means you have to do twice as many eyelets. Hence the reason for the post about the “VOODOO MAGIC WITH EYELETS“. For the skirt on the gown I originally followed The Modern Maker’s skirt pattern. It worked well for what it is but I am using it in a slightly different way. So the back half top ended up to small and the front half top ended up too big. I had to do a little bit of rejiggering. The top of the front panels were originally W-t. I re-cut them down to W-s. The top of the back panels were cut at W-M. I added another panel to the center back with two bias edges with a top at W-tt. For the next dress I’ll need to adjust the skirt BEFORE I make it. Next time I plan to do the front top each at W-s, Back top each at W-Mt. Once I re-cut the front panel I was looking at re attaching the tie.. but decided instead to stitch the top of the front panel to the bottom of the yellow under-bodice. I don’t think this is the way it was done historically. It seems weird (and I have no proof) for a dress with two bodices (essentially) on it. I think instead the under should be a full kirtle (side laced bodice with skirt attached) and the top of the gown’s front panel probably hooks into the bodice of the gown either with points or with hook/eye.
– First wearing post-mortem: Overall I liked it but it needs tweaks.
* gown skirt: The skirt is too long. Between all the fiddling with the skirt it somehow got about 2 inches too long pretty much all around. I’ll have to have it re-marked and re-hem it. For the weekend I safety pinned it up a bit so I would stop stepping on the front of it.
* under bodice/kirtle: I liked the ease of having the under bodice in yellow attached to the front panel of the gown but as noted above I doubt that’s the “right” way. Also in thinking about it I think I should have removed ~1/2″ from each side of the side laces of the underbodice so that when laced there’s a gap that the fabric does not cover. This would allow for quite a bit of shrinking and since the under bodice/kirtle laces are entirely covered by the gown it would keep me decently covered.
* if the front pane of the gown skirt was not attached to the under bodice/kirtle then it would need to attach to something. I think once I replace the under kirtle with a full-fledged kirtle I’ll add hook/eye to the outside edges of the top panel and hook that invisible inside the bodice.
* gown front opening: Looking at the pictures I think my gown front opening is too wide. I think I’ll make it overall 1″ narrower and 2″ narrower at the bottom on each side. I think the angle would work nicely and be more visually slimming. I have a suspicion that the gown bodice should be longer.. but I need to look at the paintings more before I commit to that change.
* Antwerpen jacket: I love the Antwerpen jacket but it looks kind of shapeless when not closed down the front. I need to finish adding the hook/eye down the front.
* gown sleeves: I need to add a couple of eyelets/points onto the gown so that I can lace sleeves onto the gown. I used my existing sleeves but had no way to keep them up. Pinning them made them too tight. I don’t actually know what is used.. but I feel safer (since my son is 4 and still throws himself at me for hugs) using ties instead of pins.
– I’m having a “well duh” moment. I did not initially cut out the lining for this.. and now that I’m adding lining I used the paper pattern to cut out the lining. Unfortunately the fabric version must have shifted slightly and the sleeve straps on the fabric bodice is slightly wider than the sleeve straps on the paper pattern meaning that my lining is coming out a smidge too narrow through the straps. I *should* have cut out the lining when I cut out the interlining, using the interlining as the pattern. So okay. Next time I’ll try to remember to do it right. In this case I’ll fuss and fidget with it to see if I can get it to work.

What Others have done:

Morgan Donner: Antwerpen Dress
Esperanza de Navarra of Maniacal Medievalist: https://maniacalmedievalist.wordpress.com/tag/flemish-clothing/
Drea Leed: http://www.elizabethancostume.net/lowerclass/flemish-dress.html


Gnagy, Mathew. The Modern Maker Vol. 1: Men’s Doublets. Charleston SC: Printed by creativespace.com, 2014. Print.
Gnagy, Mathew. The Modern Maker Vol. 2: Pattern Manual 1580-1640: Men’s and women’s drafts from the late 16th through mid 17th centuries. . Charleston SC: Printed by creativespace.com, 2018. Print.
Leed, Drea. The Well Dress’d Peasant: 16th Century Flemish Workingwomen’s Clothing. Trinidad CO: Costume & Dressmaker Press, 2000. PDF. http://www.elizabethancostume.net/welldressdpeasant.pdf
Sturtewagen, Isis. All together respectable dressed: Fashion and clothing in Bruges during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Antwerp Belgium: Printed by University of Antwerp, 2016. PDF.

Aliet’s document: https://thenewcut.wordpress.com/overview-of-sixteenth-century-womens-dress-in-antwerpen-market-scenes-2/

Hovetcleets and oorijzers https://dutchrenaissanceclothing.com/2014/02/hovetcleets-and-oorijzers/
Hook and eye: http://whafi.com/sewing-techniques/closing-time

Binge list

When I sew I tend to have something on TV in the background. I’ve decided it amuses me to record what I watched with the item.

Beyond Skyline – This is part 2 to Skyline but works as a stand-alone if you didn’t see part 1. Aliens, bloody gore, apocolypse. I liked it even if it was a bit predictable.
The 10th Kingdom – An old favorite. This is my go to easy-to-watch fun show. I love that it’s back on Amazon Prime
2307: Winter’s Dream – Total B icy apocolypse. Not quite as bad as Snowpiercer (which was B A D) but not good.
Avatar – Love it.
The Butterfly Effect 3: Revelations – A whodunnit with timetravel. I guessed the answer at 2/3 through.
The Expanse – I watched this when it first came out on TV but it didn’t grab me. I decided to give it another chance. It’s growing on me (like a blue fungus)
Singularity – AI aided future apocalypse. Like “What if the last Terminator move (the one in the future with the guy who turned out to be a robot) had been shot with different actors from a different angle. Yeah. Kinda meh.

3 thoughts on “Rust Antwerpen Market Gown

  1. Often the sleeves are pinned on – I totally get the ties for safety but if your sleeves felt too tight I find that pinned on sleeves need a very generous amount added on to the sleeve cap. on my pinned on foresleeves I added 2″ to the top but 4″ probably would have been better. It has to do with movement, mostly.

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