The Dress Dairy of the Flemish blue dress

2004-05-01 Research and inspiration

The master plan for this project may be viewed here!

The general idea was to turn the Flemish dress into an open laced dress, front and back pleated, and with 3/4-length sleeves. The Housebook presents several examples of open laced dresses. Further, and most amusing, they are worn with a variety of silly head dresses and fringes! One wants to try them all...

Fol 22v23r- The noble hunt Folio 22v23r- The noble hunt Folio 18r19v- The bathhouse


The housebook also provides us with several good views of the back of the dresses, showing seams and construction details!

Medieval Housebook, folio 19v20r: The Water surrounded castle (Waldburg Wolfegg 1998) Medieval Housebook, folio 20v21r:  The Coronel joust  (Waldburg Wolfegg 1998) Medieval Housebook, folio 14r: Sol (Waldburg Wolfegg 1998)

Below an enlarged detail of The Departure of the Hunt and a drawing, Standing Lovers from behind, by the Housebook Master with good views of bodice constructions...

Finally, the last picture of bodices back construction is a print be Master bxg (Two Cardplayers)


Regarding sleeve length, a full lenght sleeve seems to be the most common type in the housebook. I couldn't find many examples of 3/4 sleeves. However, the 3/4 lenght sleeve on a housebook type dress is not uncommonly seen in contemporary art. All the sleeves seems to some extant have tendencies towards "les grand assiettes", in particular the woman shown in folio 14r, who also is wearing a 3/4 lenght sleeve. A few other sleeve types can be found in the housebook. Interestingly enough these most of these examples are folios probably made by a different artist than the aforementioned!

Medieval Housebook, folio 24v25r: The obscene garden of love (Waldburg Wolfegg 1998) Medieval Housebook, folio 24v25r: The obscene garden of love (Waldburg Wolfegg 1998)


The depiction of woman wearing a long schaube were most rewarding. Never again am I going to be cold in the winter! I have a lovely blue thick matching wool which will perfect as a winter coat for a housebook dress! There are also quite a few examples of this schaube fashion in the late 15th C. by other artists.

The second picture is even more interesting, is she really wearing a thigh-length dress? Or is it just an illusion? If one could find some more relaible examples of that type, it would be heavenly practical and convenient to have an half length over dress like that! And is it the back pleating of a schaube that can be seen in the third image (also from The Departure of the Hunt)??

Medieval Housebook, folio 19v21r: The water surrounded castle (Waldburg Wolfegg 1998) Medieval Housebook, folio 16r: Mercury  (Waldburg Wolfegg 1998)


Another pretty schaube, in a Martin Shongauer print.


2004-05-04 Fabric and limitaions

I dug out the dress from my closet to see what I really had to start from. Realised it was fully lined with a yellow artificial (?) silk fabric. Well the results of this evenings try outs was:

  1. It is not impossible, there are definately parallells between the flemish fashion and the rhine area fashion in the late 15th C!
  2. Lucky me the dress is a bit too large, so I have quite some marginals to work with. What I need to do is lift up the shoulders in order to get more fabric for the pleating in the waist, which was made to lay flat...
  3. I might need to find a matching fabric for the sleeves and for a 20 cm guard at the bottom to lenghten it after lifting it up. The I might use the train to get a fuller skirt. Or I could let the skirt be as it is and use the train for the sleeves.
  4. I am going to keep the yellow lining. It is rather nice.
  5. I have a thick and fulled blue wool in a matching colour that would make a very nice schaube.

2004.07.04 Remodelling started!

After a weekend dedicated to sewing projects I have finally managed to resume my work on the flemish blue dress!

I started with taking apart the lining and sleeves and cutting off long the trail, which is to be used for a gore in the centre front. The pattern will have to be upside down, but hopefully it will not show too much? Regarding the back, the seam allowance of the centre back seam was generous enough to enable some cartridge pleats in the centre back. Of course it would have been optimal to insert a triangular gore also in the centre back. But if there is no fabric left...

To adjust the dress to a slightly higher waistline, the shoulder seams were lifted. The V-cut neckline in the back was then recut to a deep and narrow u-cut.


My 13th C shift in unbleached linen, which was recently remodelled into a centre gathered hemd, worked really well also under this dress type! Very comfortable and easy to wear, looking like the white garments worn by women in bed, holy women giving birth... hm, have I made my self a nightdress maybe?


Myra ©2004