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1570s Italien Doublet

The images above and to the left are pictures of my new italien style woman’s
doublet being worn after the italien fashion; that is, sans farthingale. This
is always a nice option to have if you anticipate ending up in a crowded room.
The doublet was finished in time for the winter faire party for bristol back
in january. Theoretically, I have some better pictures of the full dress with
farthingale coming along any time now, but for the moment, I’ll just put up
the polaroid scans that I have. (Note: better picture have been procured, and posted above and to the right….)

The doublet and skirts are made of a heavy brushed cotton –
another $2/yard special. My mother said the fabric was a ‘heavy small whaled
whaleless corduroy’, or something like that. She knows these things. This one
did not need to be dyed. The doublet is fully self lined with the cotton. There
are two lines of boning in front. The boning casing is made with biased tape
sewn to the inside of the lining piece, so that there are no stitches visible
on the outside of the doublet. The boning runs to just below the corset line.
The doublet is shaped by a pair of curved seams at the side front and side back.
In the closeups on the dummy, you see an epaulette at the shoulders. The epaulette
is there as a mounting for the double shoulder roll in the finished doublet.

The trim on the doublet is rows of open work oatmeal colored
midi-braid surrounded by dark red gimp, layed chevronwise (in V’s, for the non-heraldry
literate) on the front and back of the doublet. Please see the closeup of the
front of the doublet, modeled by my dress dummy (the Lady Jane Beige). Actually,
the trim had to be put on the doublet pieces before they were sewn , so that
they raveling ends of the braids could be safely hidden in the seams. Getting
the braids to match up at the center back seam is more difficult than you might
imagine – not only do you need to measure everything so it comes out in the
same place, but you need to keep the braids from slipping past each other while
you sew. I don’t think I will do anything quite like this again!

skirt is lined with very cheap costume satin, so that it moves freely. Had I
been thinking, I would have gotten the satin in yellow or green or some color
that I am not likely to use as an underskirt. I didn’t realize this until the
night before I was supposed to have pictures of the costume taken, and then
I had to go on an emergency fabric run to try to find an underskirt fabric that
did not clash with the red, and did not make me look like I was decorated for
xmas. The green underskirt in the full pictures above is actually striped, with
a triple row of gimp braid along the bottom. The back and top two halves of
each side of the underskirt are faked with cheap black broadcloth. The overskirt
is just shy of 6 yards of fabric gathered down to the waistband. It is heavy.
(Combination clothing and exercise equipment.) It drapes beautifully, though.

I was happy with the end result.


  1. Betsy
    Betsy April 12, 2010

    Beautiful! I’m interested in making a Spanish version. What are the differences you would make to make a Spanish doublet?

    • missa
      missa April 18, 2010

      Hi, Betsy,

      Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. Italian and Spanish clothing from this era do have a lot of similarities, but they’re working towards different aesthetics. The Italians tend to emphasize the female form (paintings from the period show bodices with a remarkable amount of cleavage going on), add softness (skirts hang more naturally about the body, shoulder treatments and sleeves show a lot of soft poofs of chemise, etc), and emphasize width (especially along the neck line/dropped sleeve area). There’s a love of color, sometimes leaning towards garish. Spanish designs, on the other hand, are much stiffer and more prim – skirts are supported rigidly by the farthingale, decorations tend to be linear, the bosom is not worn so high and is thoroughly covered (either by a doublet, opaque partlet, or in the case of the Isabella de Valois (wife of Phillip II, portrait by Alonso Sanchez Coello, 1564, covered with a partlet of fine silk so heavily wrought and poofed that it might as well have been opaque – but she was a french princess), skirts have a visible tuck at the bottom (believed to ensure that the feet are covered when a woman sits). Overall, the aesthetic seems to emphasize a string vertical line right down the middle of the wearer, generally a fairly narrow color palate, and a general sense of stiffness. They’re little walking fortresses.

      If I were making a Spanish version of the same doublet, I’d start by changing the direction of the trim – it should run more vertically, possibly still slightly chevroned in to a central vertical detail. The neckline should close in a tight collar around the neck. I think the colors would need to change – blue is seen a lot in Italian artwork in the period, but I’ve not seen it so much in Spanish. Thing golds, dark reds, or blacks. I’d change the shoulder treatment to something less poofy, and add a skirting detail to the bottom. Also, though not technically part of the doublet, you’ll want to make sure the skirts are supported correctly. The Spanish invented the spanish farthingale (duh), and the were pretty attached to it – farthingale, without hip roll. Overall, you want to look like someone could stand you on your head and time a hard-cooked egg. ;)

  2. Ysabel of Unicorn
    Ysabel of Unicorn September 12, 2010

    I have wandered the internet far and wide in search of some method of creating and attaching shoulder rolls to a bodice, and stumbled across your fantastic site. Could I possibly beg some sort of explanation for how you managed the shoulder rolls on this gown? I’ve got an otherwise nearly complete Elizabethan (still sewing my trim on, but that’s about it), and the shoulder rolls have left me mystified. (If there was something in Patterns of Fashion or Janet Arnold, forgive me – I’ve recently graduated and don’t have access to my university library anymore.)

    If it helps, this is the portrait I’m using as my primary inspiration:

    Any help would be greatly appreciated – I’m quite comfortable with drafting things and figuring things out so long as I have /some/ idea of what I’m doing.

  3. missa
    missa September 13, 2010

    Hi, Ysabel. In this case, the “rolls” aren’t entirely rolls at all. They’re two sets of loop tabs (long finished rectangles, folded in half, raw edges sewn in to the armscye). The tabs are sort of shingled over each other in two rows. Each row is stuffed with a little sort of crescent shaped pillow, and a looser bit of cotton to make the poofs.
    Shoulder rolls are not really the most scientific process. ;) The other option is to make a fully stuffed roll. You’ll want to make a crescent shape. The inside of the crescent should match your armscye, and the outside should be, well, bigger than that. Cut two pieces from this pattern per side, sew them up, stuff firmly and close. Using this as a base, cover with festive strips of fabric – they’ll be closer together on the inside than over the top of the roll, so you’ll get the right look. You’ll just hand tack everything to the base pillow, and then whip stitch the pillow around the armscye. (Use carpet thread and knot often!)
    Hope that helps….

  4. Ysabel of Unicorn
    Ysabel of Unicorn October 2, 2010

    Thank you so much, this was very helpful to get some sort of idea of what I was doing. My shoulder rolls turned out great, now all I’ve got left is to make myself a hat! Everyone at the (non-SCA) event I was sewing for was quite impressed. I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner – while the event itself went quite well, personal drama also ensued and has had me rather distracted the last couple weeks.

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