Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Nauseatingly Stripy Trunkhose

This project is a pair of trunkhose, similar in style to those of the late 1560s, made of the same fabric and to wear with the same doublet as in the Brunswick suit.  The design is fairly general, not based on any one particular example, but is closest to one in the French rapier manual by Sainct Didier.  Because this particular project was intended more as a trial run, I am not worrying about documenting everything.


Garment Description:
Trunkhose, of course, are one of the primary styles of upper leg clothing for the late 16th century.  There are other varieties—especially the pluderhose in Germanic countries—but for most of Europe, some style of trunkhose were the most common.  The term “Trunkhose” meaning the portion of your hose—a general term for lower body garment—that actually covers part of your torso. 

As a garment of the period, there isn’t too much odd about it, other than it being unpaned or made without the outer layers of decorative fabric.  The inclusions of canons—the bit going from the bottom of the main portion of the breeches to cover just above the knee—is unusual in this period, but can be documented.

As for their existence…I am not sure how we moved from tightly fitted hosen to essentially shorts, which then poofed out to an alarming degree in some cases.  My suspicion was it was a combination of modesty from older nobles, and conspicuous consumption…given the two yards or more—per layer!—of fabric per leg, conspicuous consumption is certainly reasonable.  However, at their base purpose, they existed to cover your legs.

The Sources:
Once again, this is not based on any one particular example.  The pattern was drawn from the Medici pair from the early 1560s, and the Sir Richard Cotton suit from 40 years later.  The general style I ended up with, and diagonally striped un-paned trunkhose can be documented by a plate or two in Sainct Didier, as well as a striped cannon [Sainct Didier, pp. 130].  

The Single Sword of Sainct Didier, pp. 94

My Goals:
My primary goal in making this pair of trunkhose was to double check my patterns and processes for making trunkhose, prior to cutting into the silks and fustian for the Hasting’s Suit while ending up with a wearable garment.  As such, my focus on authenticity was in the pattern, layers, and how cartridge pleats go, since I had never done them before; it was not on the fabrics or stitching (with the exception of the cartridge pleats, of course).

For the most part, trunkhose of this type would have been made of silks, interlined and lined with fustian, wool, and linen.  Woolen examples are certainly a possibility as well for lower or middle classes, and I intend to make a pair someday.  The fabrics I used were all from stash; a striped red and gold voided velvet (dead dino), a somewhat fustianlike but overly well draping cotton for the flatlining, and plaid cotton flannel for the lining.  The bindings and waistband were done in red linen.

The machine sewing thread is cotton, and I believe that all of the handsewing is in linen.  The exception is the eyelets, done in perl cotton, and the basting thread, which is a heavy duty poly thread chosen because it behaves well and doesn’t require waxing.

The pattern is a hybrid of an early and late pair of trunkhose—the Medici and Cotton pairs, slightly blended because there aren’t any patterns for between them.  I postulated that at that time the hose probably were still made with an outseam (like the Medici pair), rather than the seam on the inside, partly so I could inset the pocket into the seam.  Looking again, I believe that I should adjust the pattern so that the seam runs down the back of the leg for the next pair.  For all practical purposes, it doesn’t effect that much.

Essentially, the base is a rectangle, with the rise removed, and a curve at the bottom to make the bit between the legs slightly shorter.  The underlining is much the same, albeit shorter (the actual intended length of the hose) with the segments to be pleated about half as wide.

The undershorts are there primarily as a way of keeping the outerhose from slipping down and losing their poof.  They are a composite, and something not seen in the Medici pair, but the linings of those were linen and mostly dissolved in other portions of the garment, so I feel that the layer may have been there originally.  You also see them in two pairs of the Sture pluderhose from around the same time.  I experimented to find the best working method, as I could document undershorts which were either narrower  [PoF3 pp. 89 ]or shorter [PoF3 pp. 75, 91].  Narrower came in handy, both because it used less fabric, and was out of the way for the pockets, but shorter worked best to keep them from falling (go figure).  So I combined them. 

The waistband is a less exaggerated version of the Cotton suit, as I wanted the effect that the curved shape might give on the poofs—I suspects that it would modify how the pleats stand out in the front, where the waistband curves down.

Measurements were primarily based proportionately off of my primary patterning examples.  I drafted the pattern to scale (in 1/2cm, I believe) on paper, then enlarged it and cut out of felt as a mockup.

Because this is a “munitions”—even if made of a fancier fabric--and test garment, I chose to sew the majority of the seams by machine.  Sew sue me…I wanted it done quick.  That said, there is a substantial amount of basting done, the cartridge pleats are completely done by hand (of course), and the lining installed by hand as well.  The bindings were sewn down on the right side by machine, then turned over and handsewn.

 After drafting my pattern--and I will include more photos and discuss that more on the Hasting's suit documentation.
 After adding an inseam to my pattern, I chalked out and cut out the four main leg pieces on the bias.  I chose bias primarily for appearance

Then did so again with the cotton flatlining.

 Because it's a piled synthetic, I melted the edges.

After sewing up the inseam, I had to turn the bottom edge and roughly overcast it into place prior to running the gathering stitches.

For the top, I needed padding...two layers of medium weight wool, and a doubled strip left over from my Dungiven Trius worked nicely.

I calculated the pleat size by folding it evenly like an accordion, measuring how much was taken up, then playing with that proportion until I ended up with the one I needed (roughly 3/1, if I remember right). Conveniently, the pattern of the plaid was the 3/4 inch I needed.

This pocket is not correct...this is how I did the plait pockets of my frock coats and thought it would work for this.

After reviewing the books (PoF3 primarily) I decided to redo it in a style which actually hangs loose as it should.

 With the side seam sewn up and the top ready to gather, it was time to run the stitches for the bottom cuff.  The 3.5 inches to either side of the inseam was left ungathered.

 The top was drawn in and came out at just the right length.  That is the shape of the waistband, btw, with the front to the left.  Two layers of fairly light linen, and two of the heavy, soft cotton I used as an underlining; each half of the waistband is complete by itself.

 Then sewn to the waistband with an overcast stitch in doubled heavy linen thread.

Yup...I used plaid flannel for the innermost layer.  The shorter and narrower lining was roughly knife pleated to fit the waistband, and felled in place.

The cannons.  While they weren't common at the target time, they did exist, and I chose to include them for practical reasons.  My stockings barely reach the bottom of the hosen proper, and I needed more overlap for fighting. 

They are pieced because I wanted to match up the pattern with the outseam...sadly, I cut them upside-down, and didn't discover it until they were completed.

 The canons were sewn to the bottom the same way the waistband was. 

 Rather pretty, I think.  I found that I had to loosen the top line of gathering stitches, otherwise the pants wouldn't poof out.  I suspect this will be necessary on the top as well.

 And beginning on the codpiece, modeled on that of the Medici.

 You can see that there are 3 pieces...a bottom gusset, a top base (which covers the gap at the front and keeps the stuffing in), and to the left is the bulgy bit which was stuffed with scrap.

 And in place, with the upper bound.

The last step was to install a bunch of eyelets...pretty standard.

And there is the first try on, once I got the eyelets all sewn.

Conclusions and what I learned:
This was decidedly interesting to make, as I had never done poofy pants like this before, nor cartridge pleats.  Yes, I know I’ve done pluderhose a couple of times, and while poofy, they aren’t gravity defying.  So I learned how to do cartridge pleats and how to calculate the size (basically accordion fold the fabric in test pleats, and do some calculations).  The pattern drafting was fairly simple.  I found out that you can’t do wide spaced threads on the cartridge pleating, since it keeps the pleats from poofing out—this is particularly important on the legband.  Plus I learned all that about the underlayer, and how the pockets hang…they are mostly loose, with only the opening being attached.

And that I suck at pattern matching on the bias.  I mean, I could have done better, but didn’t.

What I would do differently next time:
Well, I am going to rotate the seam to roughly down the back of the leg, which will necessitate my insetting pockets the hard way.  I will include a couple inches of extra in the pattern to fold over…I only had a standard seam allowance and barely that, which wasn’t enough.  I will have to play with the codpiece and section of rise between the legs a bit to allow more built in ease and a smaller codpiece.  More eyelets on the waistband, I think, although I can easily add them to this one.  More photos (I hope), and I intend to lengthen the lining enough that it covers most of the waistband.


How Accurate is It?:
Not particularly.  Accuracy was not the primary goal on this pair, remember.  I can document most of features and techniques, but not all.  However, the look is okay, and I actually can document diagonally striped breeches (even though those are likely applied trim).  It also turns out that actual cartridge pleats do not show up in period, at least on men's breeches--rather disappointing, that (discussion with Matthew Gnagy).  Maybe 60%?

This project only took around 20 hours, over the course of a week.

HSM Challenge Information:

The Challenge:  Rediculous (August).  Renaissance fashion can be somewhat crazy and over the top at times, and the combination of poofy breeches with codpiece, and multiple stripes certainly counts for that.

Material:  Sadly, dead dino.  I can document that fabric pattern, however, if not the material it is made from.

Pattern:  My own, developed from patterns in Patterns of Fashion 3, and the new 17th Century Men's Dress pattern book.

Year:  Late 1560s, early 1570s.

Notions:  None...threads?

How historically accurate is it?:  As I discuss, the pattern is possibly period, as is the style.  Some of the methods of construction are (so I thought), leaving aside the machine construction.  I'm giving it around lowest in a good long time, but it /was/ made as a practice project from stash.

Hours to complete:  20.

First worn:  Summer Coronet, for fighting.  Mid July.

Total cost:  Unknown since everything was from stash....probably around $30-35 US.

More photos of it being worn can be found in the next post, a Project Roundup.
The documentation for the doublet--a project from last year--may be found HERE.

Not much of one…

Arnold, Janet.  Patterns of Fashion 3. {MacMillan Press 1985}.  ISBN 0-89676-083-9

Braun, Mellanie; Costigliolo, Luca; North, Susan; Thornton, Claire; Tiramani, Jenny (Victoria and Albert Museum). 17th-Century Men’s Dress Patterns, 1600-1630.  {Thames & Hudson 2016}. ISBN 978-0-500-51905-9

trans. Hyatt, Robert Preston; Wilson, Devin.  The Single Sword of Henry de Sainct-Didier. [Paladin Press 2009] ISBN 978-1-58160-704-8

A Short Tutorial on Cartridge Pleating a Skirt. [Accessed: 7-1-17]

The Renaissance Tailor.  Cartridge Pleating Demo.  [ Accessed: 6-30-17]

© John Frey, 2017. 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.


  1. They have a very nice poofy shape, and I like the cartridge pleats. I've never done cartridge pleating before but I'd very much like to try it sometime.

    I look forward to seeing more photos of the blindingly stripy outfit!

    1. Cartridge pleating was nowhere near as difficult as I thought! Which made me happy, since I have been somewhat intimidated by them for years.

      It was fairly comfy, and I suspect I will continue wearing them, now that I have stocking which don't misbehave. Still need to make garters, though.