|both figures here wear houplandes|
Boccaccio "Livre des cleres et Noble Femmes"
As previously mentioned, there are several variations of the neckline for the women's Houpelande, Since the idea is a uniform look (pardon the pun), we chose the high neck to match the style that the men wear. Likewise you can do almost anything with the dags: we chose the crenelated style used by the men's current dress garment.
There is, as usual, argument about the best way to create this garment. A lot of the plausible research suggests for the very opulent style: essentially a full circle of fabric with a neck hole and slits cut for setting the sleeves. This produces an incredible garment, but is also a LOT of fabric. It also doesn't entirely provide for the very fitted drop shoulder look seen in a number of the illustrations I perused. I didn't fall too far down that rabbit hole. I wanted a garment that would look and hang like the period garment, not necessarily an exact reproduction. In some cases, the two are the same thing: you can't get the period look and hang without the proper construction. in my case I thought i could probably manage by drafting off a block.
|church of santa maria, piano italy.|
|Life of the virgin, the birth of Mary, detail|
(If you wish to go further down this rabbit hole than I did, a quick google search for "women's 15th century houpelande illumination" will yield many hours of fun.)
I made the sleeves as a unit first, since they had the dags and I wanted to get them out of the way. I used my patented cheater dag technique to save fabric and make sturdier joins. Which meant first making a whole pile of dags....
and then catching them in the seam between sleeve and lining, turning, pressing, and top stitching. Oh my sleeves!
Although it seems most likely that the original garments (particularly the fur lined ones) were sack lined, I ended up flat lining my gown, because the outer fabric was too drapey for the pattern. The flat lining gave it some support. I pad stitched the collar to a piece of felt, and sewed that in, and then attached the sleeves. The final step was to have my long suffering mother pin the hem (and it was a vast amount of pinning) and help me get it cut straight. Which was a challenge with the slithery fabric. I would like to take this moment to state that this is why I'm becoming a natural and period fibers snob. linen or light weight wool would have been SO much easier to work with (I didn't have a bolt of either of them lying around though.) Finally I installed a very wide hem facing of a nondescript grey "faux wool" I had lying about, to protect the white lining from dirt.
I had a little fabric left over and a lot of curiosity about the full circle method of construction, so I made Kitten a tiny black houpelande with fur lined sleeves using that method. It turned out well, but, as I suspected, it doesn't have the snugness across the back and in the shoulders that you see in some of the illuminations. I suspect that were I working with a full fur lining, I would prefer this method. Kitten's has a fur lined sleeve, and the upper chest is lined with medium weight wool for warmth.
Over all, I count it a success. I ended up using one of my viking under gowns with pinned on sleeves. Hopefully I will be able to upgrade that to a proper undergown with a contrast hem before I wear the Houpelande again. I ended up having to adjust the sleeve cap after I had already made the sleeves, so the sleeves are JUST long enough with the dags. I will lengthen them a little in the next iteration of the gown. It was comfortable, classic, and I was able to layer enough to be warm (and think I can layer down enough to be moderately cool as well)
With the hat and veil added to it, I Really felt like I looked like I had stepped out of an illumination, which was fun.