A Transitional Gown: A Woman's Dress in England between 1490-1509

HL Amalia Zavattini (mka Amy Nicholson) © 2010
Barony of The Stargate - Kingdom of Ansteorra
Image 1: detail from Jean Poyer, Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne

Image 1: detail from Jean Poyer,
Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne c.1495

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This entry is a hand-sewn linen shift, wool kirtle, silk gown, draped hood, and partlet made in a style to reflect the fashions of a moderately wealthy noble woman in the turn of the 16th century in England. I drafted all of my patterns for these garments.

The shift is made of plain weave 100% linen and sized to fit narrowly through the arms and body, without an excess of fabric that would bunch beneath the tight-fitting kirtle.

The kirtle is made of plain weave pale blue 100% wool lined with pale yellow plain weave 100% silk noil and relies on the side seams to achieve a tight fit. It provides support and shaping, and is the foundation garment for the overgown. The kirtle laces closed up the front through hand-worked eyelets.

I used blue silk velvet for the overgown. When I purchased the fabric, I was told it was 100% silk, both the pile and the backing. I have since discovered that the fabric is a silk/rayon blend. (Please see Appendix A for a discussion on the use of this fabric.) It is lined with lightweight satin weave yellow 100% silk. The bodice portion is interlined with linen and wool to provide stiffness and a smooth line. The overgown laces up the back through hand-made metal rings, and the slit in the skirt is generally hidden in the heavy pleats.

The draped hood is made of black silk velvet and ocher-yellow 100% silk satin. As with the blue velvet I used for the overgown, I was told this fabric was 100% silk. I believe now it is also a blend of silk and rayon. My partlet is made of black 100% silk, in a plain weave. I lined it with plain weave black 100% linen and interlined it with another layer of the same linen to make it lay flat.

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