Late 15th Century Swabian Dress

 

 

This is a dress based on paintings of women in Swabia (modern Southwestern Germany) in the last quarter of the 15th century. My primary image sources are the manuscripts from the workshop of Ludwig Henfflin dating to the early 1470s. You can see similar styles in portraiture until around 1500. Some manuscripts show women in very luxurious fabrics like silk damasks and velvets, but I opted for a fine worsted wool in bright scarlet red, as I felt it was close to what I saw in the below manuscripts. Plainer wool gowns would also have been worn and I wanted a fabric that I could wear outdoors and not worry about damaging it. While many of these gowns were cut in one from shoulder to hem and the extra fabric belted at the waist in arranged pleats, some gowns were also cut with a separate bodice and skirt, which is what I chose to do. 



 

Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg, Cod. Pal. germ. 67. Stuttgart  - Werkstatt Ludwig Henfflin, circa 1470

 

My dress is lightweight wool, lined in natural colored linen, and interlined at just the front with a medium weight linen. It laces up the front with large brass rings, and along the open seam of the sleeve with small brass rings. I believe these gowns were worn with supportive shifts or light kirtles underneath, then a more decorative “hemd” (shift) over it that would show at the open neckline. 

 


Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg, Cod. Pal. germ. 152. Stuttgart  - Werkstatt Ludwig Henfflin, circa 1470

 

I used my basic bodice block and sleeve patterns and altered the neckline and sleeve seams to match the manuscript images. The skirt is cut very wide at the hem with large trapezoidal panels that have piecing at the sides to make the hem circumference extra wide while maintaining fabric economy. The back of the skirt is pleated while the front is not. The skirt hem is finished with a heavy wool facing to make it drape farther from my feet. I did not want a large train (despite them being shown in the manuscript).

 

 




 

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