16th Century, Brown Wool Kirtle, Costumes

A Brown Wool Kirtle: Laying the Ground Work

This project came about during a small session of retail therapy and the joy of finding wool in Florida, in the summer for 5 bucks a yard.

That was the good news.

The bad news, there was only 3 yards of it. I decided to get it anyways thinking I could at least make a doublet and sleeves.

But once I got to the cutting table a plan had come to mind. The kirtle and low-cut bodice of cloth rash from Juan de Alcega’s pattern book was haunting me. Something about the diagram hadn’t added up when I tried to use it before, and that bothered me.

So I decided I would take another crack at it. I had 3 yards of brown wool and 3.5 yards of a navy wool. And while I have 2 lower class looking kirtles a nicer wool one couldn’t hurt.

Kirtle and bodice of rash cloth
Juan de Alcega Tailor's Pattern Book: Kirtle and bodice of rash cloth

I spent the evening studying the diagram, and looking back over Deciphering Juan de Alcega Tailor’s Pattern Book.

The mm at the back waistline was throwing me off, how could it be 33 inches on the fold when the section of fabric it was laying on was only 16.5 inches wide? The total back waist measurement would have been 66 inches in all, which was more than the width of my fabric to start with. There was also an mm at the bodice length, which would make a pattern for a giant.

Something had to be amiss, so I looked over the other diagrams and found other skirts had simply m for their back portions.

Typos even with the printing press.

That problem solved, I taped together some newspaper and drafted the pattern to the measurements Alcega suggested just to make sure there were no more surprises.

3 thoughts on “A Brown Wool Kirtle: Laying the Ground Work

  1. Have you read “The Tudor Tailor”? The width of fabric in the 16th century was 22″ to 30″ so skirts were pieced. Also all pieces ran the same direction on the cloth.

  2. Hi Angela, I have read The Tudor Tailor and they are a great resource. However the pattern layout I based my kirtle on is from Juan de Alcega’s Tailor’s book, in it there are layouts for using wider widths of cloth. Some are the usual 22″ for silks, others are around 60″ wide for plain wool fabrics.

  3. Oh, ok. I just found the Tudor Tailor earlier this year. I was also able to attend their workshop in Mt Prospect IL in October this year. They are amazing but then so are your outfits.

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