Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Next Piece: Stripey Doublet of Eyeblinding..ness?

Yeah, a stripey doublet...I know.  After doing a bunch of resource gathering, I noted a number of doublets with horizontal stripes...and remembered that I had a bolt of lovely voided striped velvet.  Especially after making this year's pluderhose, I needed a new doublet to go with them.  I designed the doublet in an (early) 1570s German style to match the pluderhose.


My primary--indeed, my only true reference--is Patterns of Fashion 3, by Janet Arnold.  For the most part, this is pictorial based project; even Patterns of Fashion 3 (henceforth PoF) wasn't used for more than to note the shapes of doublet pieces from this period.  My primary inspiration (if not for the doublet specifically) for the outfit is the above drawing from Kostüme der Männer und Frauen in Augsburg und Nürnberg, Deutschland, Europa, Orient und Afrika (23v), supposedly labeled as being of a "Man from Brunswick".  This book is one of the few "travel guides" from period, which show what the fashions look like in other regions.

He is wearing a fairly normal, elegant, suit of clothing for the region and period.  I like it enough that I wrote an article on the specifics of the clothing in this image, back in February.
Prince Hercule-François, Duc d'Alençon
1572.. National Gallery of Art. 1961.9.55
However, at the time of the project--1570s--there was quite a bit of variance in the shape of the primary garments (hose of some form, a doublet, and a jerkin); and it all varied according to region, specific class, and--I suspect--personal taste.  The predominant style of doublet--everywhere except the Germanic region--was some form of the developing peascod doublet, with it's elongated front like a beer gut squashed into a narrow point.  For reference, see the above image of François-Hercule de France (1572) with his highly fashionable suit of doublet and rather short trunkhose.  I say "highly fashionable" for a couple of reasons; namely that the peascod style--which developed from around 1550 to its most exaggerated form at the end of the 16th century--is about halfway though its changes.  And in order to get that shape, knowledgeable tailoring is required.  Why am I talking about peascods?  Mainly to show the difference in style between Germany and much of the other countries--even England is showing the style.

Traced sketch of the Erik Sture doublet, from PoF.
Compared to the above, I am using a much simpler, pattern--both the front edge, and the bottom edge of the doublet are roughly straight.  There is a slight angle to the bottom, towards the side seam, and the front edge may or may not have a slight curve (mine does not).  In addition, the skirts are often of a piece--sewn into a strip, rather than having separate tabs or peplums.  The sleeves may also be simpler, and of a straighter one piece construction, rather than being cut with two pieces, or with a partial hind-arm seam; there is no difference in the sleevehead, though.  The most dramatic difference isn't in the cut, but how the interlinings of the doublet is different--there is little interlining (depending on the fashion fabric, of course), and even less padding.  Unfortunately, I don't know of any deteriorating garments from this time/place which there are photographs of the insides; I can say that pad stitching to shape and stiffen was used a little, at least (Nils Sture's doublet collar [PoF pp.18]).


In period, it is unlikely a garment like this would have been worn by the maker--he would have been wearing similar clothing in fit and construction, true, but not of such "fancy" fabrics.  Most likely, that is--there are accounts of tailors stealing fabric from their customers (I.e. asking for 4 yards of velvet for a doublet, when it only required a scant 3), and I suppose it's possible said fabrics could have been used for personal garments but it's more likely the material was sold on the side [Wage].  The maker of a "bespoke" doublet such as this would have been a professional tailor, most likely a member the local guild.  It would have been purchased and worn by a member of the court.

My tools for the drafting system.

My Goals:

I had two primary goals when I undertook this project.  The first--and most complicated--was to make it as a test garment for my burgeoning numberless doublet system (designed for this style).  Right now, the system has not been tested enough for publishing--if you are interested in being a beta tester, please let me know.  I will discuss the system more in the section on how I drafted the pattern, but suffice it to say that it is a plausibly period, direct measure system of my own devising.

Back of the doublet interlining, after padstitching.  You can see the lines I followed on the right; about one handspan to the outside of the armscye, it follows that.
The second was to practice the tailoring that /may/ go into a doublet--the last time I made one (also German, and from a few years earlier), I was in a hurry and faked it with a machine.  So, I wanted to do it right this time; with padstitching shaping the breast, armscye, and collar.  Even though padstitching added quite a lot of time to the construction of the garment, it is a task I thoroughly enjoy--there's just something about taking a flat piece of fabric, and putting permanent curves in it...just with the tension of your stitches.

I am not attempting to make a garment as close to 100% period as I can.  I did take shortcuts by using a machine for the internal seams--someday I may do it right, but not unless I also have the correct materials.

Svante, Nils, and Erik Stures.  1568.  Uppsala Cathedral Museum, Sweden.

Garment Description:

The 3rd quarter 16th century German doublets were a closely fitted upper body garment.  As a rule (not a general rule...a solid, and unyielding rule) they had long sleeves, which were also fitted fairly close.  Short skirts matching the decoration of the body were sewn at the waist of the doublet, which was invariably at the natural waist (some slight exceptions made for men with large guts, which the doublet would cover completely).  There would also be a closely fitted and fairly stiff collar.  Not a particularly complicated garment (which means that it's tricky to fit right).

1575 Meister der Vohenstrauß-Bildnisse - Friedrich von Zweibrücken-Veldenz-Parkstein
Since I am not making this off of an extant garment, several pieces of artwork are serving as my documentation.  The primary one, of course is the outfit of the Brunswick man which I shared at the beginning of this documentation.  However, I also need to show that there were horizontally striped doublets in existence.  There were, although you see a smaller percentage of examples in Germany than in some other places. The skirts of my doublet are also based on the above example, with overlapping points in the  front.


Here is where I am being forced to cheat.  The the primary and secondary sources--extant garments and paintings--I am basing the style on are all upper class garments (as is this), and are made of silks and velvets (actually, also made of silk, now that I think of it.  The pile at least.). The stripes are all sewn on braid (also mostly silk).  And there I fail--I used a synthetic material, a voided and striped velvet due to finances and availability.  However! I do feel that the use of a voided velvet for my pattern is acceptable; voided velvets did exist, and there is even a horizontally striped velvet used in a pair of Venetians.
Page 86, PoF
 In addition to that source (which may be spurious), while I was working on the Pattern inspiration post for the HSM I took a close look at the Knight of Calatrava painting by Frans Fourbus the Elder.  A /really/ close look...while I originally thought black material with gold silk trim, I now think it's woven as striped cloth-of-gold and black silk velvet, with scraps of velvet used to trim around the neck and at the buttonholes.  That particular observation happened when I looked closely at his right shoulder and the shoulder tabs, which clearly have a textured effect--the velvet stripes are "thicker" than the gold.  This could, of course, be wishful thinking on my part.

Portret van een ridder in de orde van Calatrava, vermoedelijk van het geslacht Sorias of Sorea. (Knight of Calatrava).  Frans Pourbus the Elder.
For interlinings I did better; fustian (a coarse linen/cotton material) was apparently commonly used to support the fashion layer, as was linen canvas.  I used cotton duck for availability and cost, which I feel is a reasonable facsimile in use.  The padding in the chest and shoulders is both a woolen fabric in the extant examples and mine [PoF, pp. 27, figure 182].  Dyed linen was not unknown as a lining material, and such is what I used.  I also got the thread I used for all the non-visible handstitching correct--unbleached linen.  On the other hand, I sadly had to make due with cottons for things like the buttonholes, and top stitching.

The buttons are, again, problematic.  As a rule, thread wrapped buttons were done over a wooden mold.  I had issues finding small wooden beads to use as my I ended up making woolen cloth buttons of the needed size, and covering those.  I can at least say that the technique of making self stuffed buttons was possibly still in use in the 16th century [Henshall, pp. 122], even if it was decidedly low class.  The thread for covering (same as I used for the buttonholes) was DMC cotton floss rather than--once again--silk (or even metal wrapped thread) [PoF, Page 29.  Figure 194].

Drafting the Pattern:

Now for the fun part...drafting.  This project began as part of a series to test my drafting (first the pluderhose...) and instructing to draft, and is the first doublet made with the numberless drafting system I am developing.  Unfortunately, it's still in the testing stages, so you can't see it  yet...but I'll give a sneak peak.

The system being used is a direct measure system; there are no proportions, and only a few divisions--those requiring the tricky task of folding the tape in half--, where you mark the measures taken directly on a cloth tape.  Therefore, there are no numbers to keep track of, no subtraction to do, just a strip of cloth being moved around in a specific manner (ok...there's more to it than that, but it's still not difficult).  To the best of my knowledge, there isn't anything out there of this style of drafting, for this particular garment; I did base it on some drafting systems of the 19th century, of course.

 All in all, the system isn't that unusual in how you put it together, other than the methods of finding the shoulder slope and front length.

Finding the slope of the shoulder
Thus far, the main issue I'm finding is getting the ease in there, and I think I've mostly gotten that kink worked out.


The pattern of the garment isn't that complicated, only a few pieces, really.  The back is cut on the fold, and has a grown-on collar (grown-on meaning that it is cut in one piece, rather than being sewn); the front is two pieces, with the collar cut-on.  Each sleeve is in one piece, with a 's' curve sleevehead.  The skirt, on the other hand, is made up of three curved  pieces, with the seams matching those of the doublet body.

Somewhat funky shaped sleeve.  I have narrow biceps, and pointy elbows--hence why it widens at that point.
The worst part of patterning this was attempting to match the I didn't even try for some of the seams.  Obviously the front had to be, and I attempted to match the horizontal seams at front and back, but I really didn't even try on the side seams; I forgot pattern matching would be something I had to do, and would have needed to adjust the pattern so that the angle of each part of the side seam was the same.  As is, the front edge was almost vertical, and the back is quasi-bias cut.


Well, let's be honest: The construction seams were sewn by machine, partly to cut time, and partly because I do plan to fight in this garment; plus, I don't feel that handsewing a basic seam has any advantages over machine stitching, nor teaches me anything.  Even so, there is a /lot/ of handwork in this piece.  The breast and back interlinings are both covered in padstitching, and all visible stitching--inside and out--was hand sewn.

So, let's start with the padstitching.  We do know the stitch was known and used for basic shaping in the 1570s--the doublet of Nils Sture is noted to have pad stitching stiffening the neck [page 68. PoF].  Using it elsewhere in the garment at this time is more tricky--to the best of my knowledge, I'm not seeing anything positively documenting it in 1570s Germanic style doublets (as opposed to the peascods elsewhere).  The earliest I have positive proof is 1600 to quilt a padded doublet [Pof, page 74], or 1615 for a possible shaped interlining [PoF, Page 26, figure 175].  I chose to use it (and the whole shaped interlining) as a way to practice the technique in regards to fitting a doublet; I am not yet sure if it worked, or not.

Most of the edges turns were sewn with a felling stitch--a hemstitch variant which hides the lengthwise bit of thread between the layers of fabric.  I don't know whether it was used in period, however, it is somewhat similar to the rolled hem, which was [Carlson].  The felling stitch was chosen because I felt it would give the neatest finish.

Buttonholes are standard for the period:  Worked from the right side, with no gimp thread, bar tacks on each end, and generally not sewn to have an extremely close buttonhole stitch.  I did use an overcast stitch around the cut buttonhole to hold the layers in place, a step which I am unsure whether was used or not--but I feel it is logical to assume so.  I did make one glaring error in the making of the buttonholes, and that is that I pulled the perl of the bar tacks to the outside, rather than towards the slit.

Eyelets are perfectly standard; forced open with an awl, and whipped.  The lacing band was sewn to the seam allowance of the waist seam using a back stitch.  I really need to find a neater way to finish the waist seam, but this works.  You can see backstitch used to apply the lacing band in the Svante Sture suit [PoF, page 58].  Black linen thread (35/2, from Wm, Booth) was used for both stitches; linen for strength, and black because I have no idea where my red linen thread disappeared to.

A fine stab stitch was used around the cuff, to flatten the edge.


Now for the longer part!  After drafting my toile, I did something unusual for me--I built the doublet from the inside out, cutting the lining first (with decent inlays on the sides, shoulders, and front edge).  The lining was used as my pattern for the interlinings and fashion shell.

But first, I went over every stitching line with tailor's tacks--a row of loose basting stitches, snipped between each stitch, and between the layers of fabric.  They served to mark and transfer where the seams go on both layers simultaneously.

With the pattern made, I could cut the interlinings.  For this, I used a single layer of cotton canvas, and one of a medium weight, fulled (and fluffy) wool.  Both layers of the interlining pattern were carefully chosen.  The front of the doublet needs support, as some strain goes onto the buttons; likeswise for between the shoulders in the back; however, you do want to minimize the amount of fabric in the side seam, while still supporting it--hence one side of the seam being canvassed; the curved diagonal on the front somewhat mimics the shape of the body and muscles.  The center back, on the other hand, does not need anything--you don't want padding there.  If nothing else, minimizing the layers at that spot helps keep you cool.  I should have made the cutout narrower, though.

The brown wool padding goes where I planned to padstitch and shape the canvassing, and is based on the work of Mathew Gnagy, author of the Modern Maker--I have not yet purchased the book, but follow his work on Facebook.

The wool padding goes to the inside for a reason; because it's slightly fluffy, the wool compresses better than the canvas.  Likewise, the canvas to the outside helps give a smoother surface for the shell.

 You can see here the complex curves I decided on for the back.  Again, it was based partly on the work of Mr. Gnagy, and partly my own logic based on what would need stiffening and where, based on the movement of the body.

You can see that the back scye has more or less vertical lines of stitching following it to curve around the side of shoulder and shoulder blade, which is why the shaping is vertical for about half the width of the shoulder section.  Right between the blades and especially the grown-on collar also needed to be vertical in order to stiffen that section.  But at that point, I began following the bottom edge of the canvas in a single line of stitches, like an obtuse, curvy, L.  This line was followed to curve around the back and blade.

You can see here how the stitching shaped and put a permanent curve into the canvas.  It is important that you work from the inside to toward the outside when padstitching.

 While I originally planned a much more complex line of padstitching--the faint brown lines) I decided not to in the end, and just curved around the armscye to mimic the shape of the chest.  Now that I think on it, however, I probably should not have padstitched the shoulder section (or flipped it and stitched from the other side in order to create a hollow).

At this point, all the padstitching of the body is done, laid out, and temporarily basted to the lining.  While the interlining is not connected to the lining in the garment, I wanted to check the fit and see how much I would have to add to my measurements when cutting/sewing the shell.

Once I checked the measures--the widths I could need to add were narrow enough that they could be taken from the inlays (inlays, remember, are extra wide seam allowances to allow fitting) cutting out the shell. While it may look crooked, it is not.  I made darn sure that the pattern and fabric were perfectly horizontal, with the stripes hitting the same spots on both sides.

After the shell was cut, the interlining was permanently basted to the shell around all edges to keep it in place--even through washings, theoretically.  Yes, even the inner edges were basted--it was easy enough to hide tiny red stitches in the red lines of velvet.

Once the interlinings were in place, I basted the side and shoulder seams to double check the fit, then sewed them more permanently.

 I waited until this point to draft and make the collar, since changes in fit could have happened up until this point.  The front collars were likewise of a single layer of cotton canvas and one of wool, and stitched with vertical lines of padstitching to form a slight curve--and more importantly, stiffen it.

The collar interlining was also permanently basted to the shell, the same way as the body.  Small, sturdy basting stitches were used to sew up the collar seam before machining the seam.

I used a cross stitch to flatten the seam allowances of the sides, shoulders, and collar--really, I'm not sure how well I can document the stitch for that use in this period; the one image in PoF of doublet seams shows them simply overcast.  Regardless, I chose this stitch for neatness and security.

I didn't actually draft the sleeve until now, since slight changes in the fit would require altering the sleevehead pattern.  Or, if I had, I had lost the piece.  So, I drafted it according to my system (which is no different than any other basic sleeve draft) and cut it.  Again, I paid attention to matching the two sides.

The sleeves were sewn in simply, with a basic turned lining at the cuff.  Naturally, I basted the sleevehead in place before machine sewing it.  There was a rather tricky bit, here, trying to figure out how the linings interacted. With a little advice from the Elizabethan costuming group, I ended up sewing the body lining in one with the sleeve shell, and hand felling the sleeve lining over the seam.  I figured that this would create the neatest finish.

At that point, I had not drafted the skirts at all...ever.  I don't feel the need to do a mockup of them, since they are so basic.  You can see there that the center front and back were cut on the vertical, and I tried to make sure that the pattern would match after sewing the seam--I didn't do too badly on that, I  think.

The skirts are interlined with a  layer of the canvas to give them some body, as well as the same red linen lining as the body.  They got straight sewn on by machine (yes, with basting...).

The only photo you will see of it being worn, until the outfit debut.
At this point, the doublet is mostly done--all the remains is the finish work.

The cuffs are slit up the seam--there is no overlap--for about two inches (two gold lines, plus one red), to be buttoned.  I finished those edges by turning the shell and lining to the inside and using the felling stitch.

I decided to go with thread wrapped buttons for this project--something I had never done before.  A rib out pattern (six ribs for the front buttons, four for the cuffs) was used.  As you can see, I used a woolen core, rather than wooden button--I could not find any wooden beads locally that weren't horribly large.

After making them, I found out that even though this style is the most commonly seen made by re-enactors....there is no documentation for the pattern.  Nobody has yet found a primary or secondary (painting) example of fully covered rib out thread wrapped buttons--rather frustrating, really...I had assumed that since all the tutorials taught them, that they were legit.  Don't assume and back document, folks!  

I decided to keep with the style because I do like how they look, and I really didn't want to spend another 10 hours making buttons.  The fourteen buttons for down the front are 5/8" diameter, and the two on each cuff are 1cm.

The way I made them can be found in the photo tutorial I wrote on my process.  I'm happy to say that the post has been extremely, and surprisingly popular.

I described the buttonholes in the section on my stitches, but they are of the standard form for the Elizabethan period.  When I conceived of the project, I had thought about putting buttonholes on every yellow you can see, I came to my senses.  In part, this was due to my button sizes--they are slightly too big for me to do so; I think 1/2" buttons would have worked if I truly wanted to make that many buttonholes.

With the buttonholes done, all that remained was to finish sewing on the lacing band, which was made of a folded strip of the lining linen and canvas (to reinforce).

The sixteen eyelets were marked out by matching them with the pluderhose waistband, and awling the holes.  As is my preference, I used a whipstitch, rather than a buttonhole stitch--if you look at extant examples, both styles are seen.

The buttons were sewn normally, with a moderately long thread shank, wrapped with half-hitches to stiffen.

What I learned:

I will try to go in order for this: To start with, I designed and learned an entirely new drafting system, of which this doublet is the first result.  The most difficult part of this was figuring out how to get the ease into the measurements.  In doing do, I was studying a variety of later systems, and noting the characteristics of doublet shapes from this period.

For the padstitching, while the technique is quite familiar to me, I did learn a few things about using it; namely the importance of working from the inside to the outside, in order to avoid bubbles; and that the fewer layers you may be using, the more tension you need.  A fair amount of searching was also required to decide on shape of the interlinings.  I also learned a bit about how the interlining is meant to move with and curve around the body.  Another thing was the mistake I made by not giving extra width in the canvassing--remember that it shrinks with the padstitching.

Finally, I should look into pressing the canvassing after working--that is a potential step I learned from watching modern bespoke tailor Rory Duffy's videos tonight, while writing this.  The link is to his general youtube page.  I particularly recommend his stitch tutorials.  Up until now, I've been gentle in not pressing my padstitched pieces at all.

Buttons!  I had never made the Elizabethan thread wrapped buttons before this project, and rather enjoyed doing so--they are kinda relaxing.  So that is another entirely new technique for this project.  I do intend to learn other styles--either the "turk's head" or "spiderweb" for the planned jerkin to be worn over this.

That I was doing the bar tacks on the ends of the buttons wrong.  I simply ran a line of buttonhole stitches, with the perl to the outside.  Instead, I should have whipped a few parallel lines of thread just outside the buttonhole, then wrapped the buttonhole stitch around those, with the perl towards the inside.

What I would do differently:

Well, other than the errors on the buttons and buttonholes, I would conduct the pad stitching slightly differently, to shape it better, and cut the interlining extra large (especially around the armscye, and neckline--I had to piece the canvas and lining there).  I will also look into pressing the interlining--but will test on a small piece first.  The other major thing I would change is how I sew the skirt on--I really need to find a much neater way.

I also really, really, want a set of buttonhole chisels for cutting buttonholes.  Even if they are just cheap woodworking chisels rather than reproductions, I'm sick of ending up with jagged buttonholes because I used scissors.

How Historically Accurate did the project turn out:

Do I have to answer this?  I really don't want to...which should be your clue.  In appearance it is fairly good.  Obviously, the fabric of the shell is wrong, since it's a synthetic.  The rest of the materials are fine, other than the substitutions of cotton thread for silk.

Other than the machine sewing (all on straight stitched seams) the construction is okay as the best of my knowledge.  There really needs to be a doublet of this style/period deconstructed and have every little detail of the construction noted and photographed (and not locked behind an academic paywall) would be incredibly helpful.

I think the real question when deciding how historically accurate something is, is whether somebody from that period would look askance at it.  I would say...maybe.  Quite probably in fact, as they look closer.  So...maybe 65%.


All in all--and not including fittings--the project took 49 hours.  A full 7.5 of those were just covering the buttons (not making the bases).  I think in the future I will try to break the stages down better.

Cost for materials was maybe $40--I don't keep track as well as I should.  Given the time and average current tailor's wage, that makes it around a $725 (US dollar) garment (theoretically.  I wish, anyways).


Unknown.  A Tailor's Wage. (Blog post, 11-2-2013)  [Accessed. 8-1-16]

Carlson, Jennifer L.. Sewing Stitches Used in Medieval Clothing.  [Accessed 8-1-16]

Henshall, Audrey S., Seaby, Wilfred A.  The Dungiven CostumeUlster Journal of Archaeology, Third Series, Vol. 24/25 (1961/1962), pp. 119-142 (Ulser Archaeological Society, 1962). [PDF, Accessed 7-20-2012)

Frey, John.  Brann's Plain and Patented Self-Graduated Measure System for Cutting Men's Doublets.  OR, How to Draft a Doublet with a Ribbon. (Blog post, not yet published).

Frey, John. Buttonholes Through the Periods.  [Accessed 7-15-16]

HSM Information:

Challenge #8: Pattern.
What the item is:  A men's doublet, 3rd quarter of the 16th century.

The Challenge:  Well--you wanted bold patterns, right?  It occasionally made my eyes hurt when working on it.  Conveniently, the piece I was inspired by is in the Pattern Inspiration post ;)

Fabric/Materials:  Fully discussed in the blog post, but fashion fabric is synthetic, interlinings are wool and cotton canvas, and lining is linen.

Pattern:  My own, experimental, doublet drafting system.

Year: 1570s Germany

Notions:  Something like 5-6 types of thread.

How historically accurate is it?: Again, fully discussed in the blog post.  But to be short, I would say around 65%, because of the materials, the fit is slightly off, and I machine sewed the main construction seams.

Hours to complete: 49.  The project was started at the beginning of June.

First worn:  Not yet.  Like the pluderhose (my Holes challenge entry) it goes with, the first wearing and debut won't be until I finish the full project.

Total cost:  Something like $40 US?  I didn't keep track as well as I should.

© John Frey, 2016. The Author of this work retains full copyright for this material. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this document for non-commercial private research or educational purposes provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved on all copies.  Photographs of my work may not be duplicated.

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