16th Century

Simple Hemd (shirt)

White linen hemd for Erik started 2/7/2024. Finished 2/24/2024.

– white linen hemd(shirt)
– slightly-longer-than-hip length
– narrowed at shoulders to bring seam to just below point of shoulder
– open neckline (no collar) big enough to pull over head
– slits on the side, (possibly center back and center front).
– slightly tapered sleeves with small gussets
– No gores.
– No shoulder seam. Front and back cut as a single piece

(Erik’s shirt) IL019 WHITE – 100% Linen 2 yds (bought from Rikissa)

I want to make a late period outfit for my son and my husband. This is intended to be based on images of middle/lower class folks so I don’t want to be terribly fussy with it. A lot of the late period shirt patterns I’m finding online are made with A LOT of fabric and are super full with gathered necks with collars that tie/button closed. I want to be more simple than that. I’ve looked over some Bruegel paintings (thanks to Matsukaze Workshops) and based on that I want to make the very simple hemd I’m seeing in the images. This will have a front panel, back panel, and sleeves. I will cut the sleeve fuller at the top and omit a gusset. I’ll also add slits to the sides. This is intended to be the basic shirt to be worn under a variety of late period clothes.

First mockup – Doesn’t he look thrilled?

I worked up a first draft pattern for the hemd for Erik. I REALLY wanted to skip right to making this with linen… but I KNOW that is a bad idea so I worked up the first mockup in muslin. The mockup was 90% there. I slightly adjusted the sleeve length, 22 to 24 inches (to leave room for the hem at the wrist) and slightly widened the body, 22 to 23 inches (to allow a bit more space). In the image you can see how the wrist is hitting EXACTLY where I want it to hit. This is great.. but I needed to add a bit to it to account for the hem at the wrists. In the image you can also see the slight pulling across the body right under the arms. This tells me the body is a bit too narrow. Adding a couple more inches to that should eliminate the pulling and should also allow him to wear the hemd for slightly longer as he’s growing. He’s 10 years old, 5-foot-tall and is currently wearing size medium (US) men’s shirts(!!!). He can stop growing any time now.

Amended first draft pattern

It turns out I’m completely out of medium weight white linen in my stash (I was stunned when I realized this). I’ve ordered more but luckily my friend Rikissa is willing to sell me 2 yards of fabric-store IL019 so I can start sewing this tomorrow.

We visited Rikissa to hang out and watch the Super Bowl. She washed and dried the linen and then graciously scrabbled around on the floor to help me by cutting out the hemd. While cutting out the neckline I made a mistake and accidentally nipped into the center back of the shirt. It was a dumb mistake. I was talking when I should have been paying attention to what my scissors were doing. I’ll need to patch that later.

I’ve decided to use flat-felled seams for this first one. I’m using a flat-felled seam that is backstitched for the first pass and then a tiny whip-stitch to hold down the flap for the second pass. I managed to attach one gusset to a sleeve and enclosed a sleeve. More later.

Finished sewing sleeves closed. Attached one sleeve to one side of the body. Closed the body on one side to the top of the slit.

Attached the second sleeve and closed the body. I finished the bottom hem and one of the slits. Only neck, wrists and one slit to go.

Finished the rest of the hems and the patch on the back of the neck. Child declared the shirt “vera nice” and promises to wear it.

“Proverbs” ca 1559 by Pieter Bruegel the Elder https://artsandculture.google.com/asset/proverbs-pieter-bruegel-the-elder/CwGkTFwDGMmq9w?hl=en
“Christ carrying the cross” ca 1564 by Pieter Bruegel the Elder https://www.bruegel2018.at/en/christ-carrying-the-cross/
“The Harvesters” ca 1565 by Pieter Bruegel the Elder https://artsandculture.google.com/asset/the-harvesters/PAH1oMZ5dGBkxg?hl=en
“Land of Cockaigne” Pieter Bruegel the Elder ca. 1567 by Pieter Bruegel the Elder https://artsandculture.google.com/asset/the-land-of-cockaigne-pieter-bruegel-the-elder/0wGML38PtpYicA?hl=en
“Peasant Wedding” ca. 1568, by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Kunsthistorisches Musuem Wien, Inv. no. Gemäldegalerie, 1027 https://www.khm.at/objektdb/detail/331/

“16th Century Dutch Clothing Terminology”, https://thenewcut.files.wordpress.com/2018/05/low-countries-clothing-terminology.pdf, by Aliet Pietersdochter of De Nieuwe Snede https://thenewcut.wordpress.com.

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