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Middle Class Doublet and Kirtle (2003)

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This year’s middle class endeavor is a kirtle and doublet, based
vaguely on the “doublet for a slim young woman” on page 107 of Patterns
of Fashion. (Based? We’re far enough departed that “inspired” is probably
a better term. Y’all know me and plans by now.) The kirtle is a fairly uninspiring
affair made of red wool crepe (originally fuscia, but much more berry thanks
to a few packets of dye and a tip from Jen
that what I really wanted to do was overdye it with *green*, not red — this
sort of thing is why she has a degree in art and I don’t. ;) ) It’s based on
the Kohler pattern (pg 252, History of Costume and Fashion — draping instructions
here. This kirtle was actually
made directly from the pattern draped in that example, in case anyone wonders
if those things are for real….) I think it gives a nearly perfect line to
the front of the skirt. The wool crepe drapes beautifully, which helps. The
skirt of the kirtle has a slight train because, um, well, because I *like* them
that way. (Remember: if you’re in the dust cloud, you’re following the lady
too closely.)

The doublet is more interesting, and took a lot more time, so
I don’t feel bad about focusing on it. The body of it is made of two layers
of black linen. This is something of a construction experiment — it’s stiffened
only with felted wool. (Yes, that includes the lacing edge. There’s no boning
in this puppy anywhere.) Most of that stiffening is worked into the design elements
of the doublet. All of the stripey bits are fancy gimp braid on top of a layer
of felt. This gives the doublet enough stiffness that I can wear it without
a corset if I choose too without it buckling. (I won’t — the lacing strips
weren’t designed to take that much strain.) The doublet laces shut via a set
of internal lacing strips from the bust down. The strips are set in so that
their edges never actually touch. Above that, it ties closed with seven sets
of ties and aiglettes (courtesy of Maggie).
The aiglettes not only look ridiculously cool, they help weight the ends of
the ties so that they lie nice and neat. The double row of small brass buttons
is purely decorative.

The shoulder rolls are relatively gigantic affairs that go completely
around the arm. They’re made of felt remnants, stuffed with rags (mostly muslin
off cuts from patterns and old bits of cotton that never got around to becoming
a curtain). The rag stuffing wasn’t so much an attempt to be more period than
anyone else — I didn’t have any normal stuffing around and I wanted to finish
the rolls. Now that I’ve tried it, though, I don’t think I’ll go back to fiberfill
for rolls — the rag packs down into a good, hard filling, and it has enough
weight that it the rolls lie nicely to the outside, rather than trying to flop
in and make me claustrophobic. The rolls were covered in strips of linen (dear
goodness, does that stuff stretch!), then with strips of felt and gimp to match
the decoration on the doublet body. I made the little tassels up because that
was the part of the doublet in PoF that I liked best. They’re just little tassels
made of rayon embroidery floss, which I brushed out with the cat “de-matting”
brush to make them look more like fine silk fibers instead of big horkin’ rayon

There’s a doubled over pipe of felt at the closing edge and
all around the collar, which helps to give the doublet form. The kirtle is supported
by my corded petticoat, and
has padded pleats. There’s no
bum roll under there. In fact, there are only about 10 pieces of “real
boning” in the entire costume (those are all in the corset, which is made
of three layers of light spring wool, and very lightly boned.

I’ve just finished a little italien style bonnet to go with
this dress, but I didn’t have it in time for the pictures, so I did my hair
up in the “3 minute court roll” style. It really needs something more
than that, but I didn’t have it at the time. (Feria, “Flaming Red”,
before anyone asks. My sister and a friend of hers call the color “Jessica
Rabbit Red”.)


  1. Lauren
    Lauren August 18, 2015

    Do you have a pattern for this? I would love to make something like this. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for my next garb project.

    • missa
      missa August 18, 2015

      Hi, Lauren – I do, but unless we’re the exact same size it won’t help you much. This is on my list of things to do up drafting directions on, but schools have been keeping me far too busy for far too long. :(

      • Lauren Zinn
        Lauren Zinn August 19, 2015

        Thank you for replying,
        If you don’t me asking, what are your sizes?
        If you want, you can email them to me at instead of posting them on the internet?

        • missa
          missa August 20, 2015

          Oofta, when I made that outfit? That was one of my thinner periods, so I was probably in the vicinity of a 36D and a 28″ waist. I’m pretty sure that I never really made a pattern for the shoulder action – that was one of those late night “surely this will work” moments. The kirtle pattern was based on something out of Kohler, iirc.

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