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11th Century German Costume from Kohler

I’ve been doing a crazy amount of research on armscyes, lately, particularly in terms of when they started being curved. I was expecting that to be after 1515 or so, based on the piecing in Gerard David‘s Deposition. But no, much to my complete annoyance, there are a lot of examples of curved sleeveheads and armscyes going back into the late medieval era. This annoys me greatly, because it means that if I want to show try out a fashion that does not use a curved sleeve head/armscye, I’m stuck back in like, 1000 AD.  This is not my happy place.  But I’m gonna make a ding-dang, major-olde-timey, at-least-it’s-not-a-T-tunic dress, and I’m gonna like it, gosh darn it.

How’s that for the most positive project intro in the history of ever?  ;) Sorry, I’m just a bundle of crank right now because I had to shoot down my own pet theory on the evolution of the armscye during the process of research. Doh! I hate that.

sketch from Kohler
Well, this is a charming little dress. Relatively. I mean, for the era.... I suppose. (page 138)

I’m a huge fan of Karl Kohler’s A History of Costume. I can’t explain why. I’ve just had very good results working with the diagrams in the book. So for lack of any better ideas, I’m starting with a drawing and a set of diagrams from Kohler. They mostly agree with the info I can find in the other sources I have on hand that cover the era, except that everyone else seems to think there were more layers involved than Kohler does. I can deal with that discrepancy, mostly because I like layers and don’t mind making another.

Kohler's under-tunic diagram
This is the pattern I really want to play with - Kohler's diagram for a chemise-y/under-tunic-y thing. (page 136)

Kohler has given measurements here in centimeters. Nifty. Where did he get them? I don’t know. I mean, I really have no idea. Some people will tell you he made them up. Frankly, even if the extant piece didn’t survive until today, he might have had access to it. Kohler was active in the 1920s. Part of his intro talks about the amount of work that has to be done to period clothing to make it fit a modern model. Let me repeat that, in case you missed my tone of horror: to make it fit a modern model. I’m not even kidding, it’s on page 50. They had a whole different approach to archeology and conservation back in the day – rather cowboy. It was like they’d let any old yahoo with money, or just curiosity and notepad, really, go pawing through extant examples of burial clothing and bog people. And they’d actually call it conservancy. I think the mindset was something like, “Gee, it’s just going to rot away with the body it’s on anyway, and it’s pretty badly damaged. How could anything we do possibly make this worse?”  (And yet, amazingly, I love Indiana Jones movies. Go fig.)

Anyhoo, so, yeah, Kohler…. Total fan of Kohler, just not a fan of cowboy archeology. The measurements he gives are completely and utterly useless to me, as I’m working with a doll. But the diagrams are nice. I think I might change out the headgear for something a little more festive, if I can find some more examples.

I’ve spent the last two days working on a little-bitty linen chemise. It’s so cute! I’m so entertained by it that I’m even doing some embroidery on it. I just tried it on Tyler this evening, and was rudely reminded that her little dolly shoulders don’t squish. The chemise will fit her, technically – I know because it’s drafted off the clone pattern I took from her, and because it fits Lizzle, who has a more womanly torso. I just can’t get Tyler physically inside of it, which means I’m going to have to add a major (totally not period) laced slit from the back neck down to the hip or so. Bother.

More on the patterning and sewing up tomorrow…

One Comment

  1. […] Wait, no, that’s a different show.  I’ve been working on the overdress for the Eleventh Century German costume, and it’s finally on the darned doll. Yay! It’s not finished, by any means, but […]

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