For my first gown I had planned to make a late 14th century surcoat, but after some thought, I decided that I was really more interested in doing something from the early 15th century. Thinking back on all the gowns I'd looked at over the years, I remembered one I'd seen that I liked. It is from the Grandes Chroniques de France (Please note: I have been unable to locate the exact source for this and a handful of other illuminations originating from the same manuscript. It is visually identical to most of the miniatures found in BL Royal 20 C VII, but is instead credited to BNF Richelieu Manuscrits Français 73, which does not appear to be online in any fully-intact format. I believe that the pair of manuscripts were completed through the turn of the 15th century, as the BL MS is dated after 1380, and I have been able to locate a date of c. 1402 for the BNF MS.)
|Grandes Chroniques de France, c. 1402|
Larsdatter.com has a handful of examples of this streamer sleeve style, including my inspiration image, but I'd like to particularly highlight this one from L’Estoire de Griseldis myz par personnages (BNF Fr. 2203) (1395) in which Griselda removes her clothing.
|L’Estoire de Griseldis myz par personnages (BNF Fr. 2203) fol. 48v|
All indications in the style of the illuminations indicate that the streamer sleeves are not fur. It makes sense that they would be wool in that case. In Larsdatter's collection, when the illumination is colored, the streamer sleeves are white.
My version, which I'm formally calling my Grandes Chroniques Gown, utilizes my gold wool for the body of the gown and some off-white wool for the streamers.
|Gold wool hanging up to dry after washing.|
I only had four yards of the wool, but I have the advantage of 60" of width and needing very little for the sleeves. My pattern layout looked like this:
|Pattern laid out- skirt is outlined with chalk marks.|
Now, because this is an overdress and there is no need for it to do any support work, the fit can be eased along the curves somewhat. This makes it easier to pull on and off, but it also allows the gown to be a bit smoother through the torso. Remember that the point of the kirtle in the 15th century was to do all the work of getting the body into the correct shape (or close to it, in my plus-sized case), it's NOT about tight clothing. The outer layer should tailored and fitted, but not be doing any of the "work". This is also the only reason I can get away with no lining (that, and because the wool is thick enough on its own and doesn't aesthetically need a lining.)
After stitching the three main panels together, I put the "dress" on over my pink cote to do some fitting, (since my pattern has proven thus far to only be a base.) I was delighted to discover that my pattern doesn't actually require alterations when used as an overdress. The neckline and armholes do, though, but that's an extremely easy adjustment.
I've sewed it together, sans sleeves, and I have it hanging to let the bias-to-bias seams stretch a bit before hemming. I also have to do some handwork on the front center gore to get it set correctly. Now seeing it in the photo below, I think it may also be placed too low.
|Hanging up on in my garish craft room.|