Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
The final step to complete the dress was sewing the skirt and bodice together. Every picture I have seen of the Landsknecht stuff, the women do not have any gaps between the skirt and bodice, making me think they are connected. The men’s clothes are often pointed (tied) together, but the women’s stuff does not look pointed to me.
I had created a complication for myself by making a front close bodice, and a side close skirt, so I could not sew around the entire skirt and bodice. I stitched around from the right front of the bodice, all the way around the back to the left side skirt opening. Then I put hooks and eyes along the left front of the skirt and bodice so that I could get the dress off and on with openings that did not line up! I stitched the bodice to the skirt right at the point where the waistband met the skirt gathers, so that the waistband was almost entirely on the underside of the bodice.
To cover my head I made a little cap to hold my hair, like the little caps worn by women in the Cranach paintings. I made mine out of yellow linen and wool left over from Stephen’s new outfit. I measured around my head and cut a band of yellow wool to hold the cap in place. I stitched it into a circle, and folded and ironed in the seam allowances. I cut a circle 24” in diameter out of the linen, and gathered it into the wool band. I machine stitched the band to the linen because I thought that this first one would just be my prototype on the way to making one out of some shear fabric that looked a little closer to the look in the paintings. But I liked the linen one so much that I spent my time on other things and never got around to making a different one. To hold it on my head I did my hair in two braids that I wrapped around the crown of my head and held in place with barrettes so they would not slip. My hair is not quite long enough anymore to tie up with ribbons in a more historical fashion. Once the cap was on top of the braids they both helped to keep my slippery hair in place., with the help of two straight pins on the top of the cap to help keep it from sliding off my head.
I also made a hat. Spending so much time out-of-doors I hate going out without a brimmed hat of some kind, and the landsknecht have such interesting hats! The simplest is a platter hat which is 2 big circles sewn together with a head hole cut in the bottom circle. These hats are most often seen with a lot of ostrich feathers on the top of the cap. I wanted something a little more involved, so I did a platter had with a square top. Stephen made an educated guess on fabric size and cut a prototype out of some scrap fabric we had laying around, wouldn’t you know he got it right on the first attempt! Both the head hole size and the amount needed to fold into a good square. I cut my wool based on his scrap fabric prototype.
The deal with the square is that you cut a square piece of fabric with a head hole in the center. You lay it out on a flat surface and fold the corners in to the middle, then you take the new corners created by the fold, and fold those into the middle too. That is the shape of the hat. I hand stitched the upper folds to each other starting in the middle and stitching toward the corners. That was the top of the hat.
For the brim I machine stitched two circles together (both with head holes since the square would be going on top) and ironed the heck out of the seam. I stiffened the brim with a round of wire, a nice thick wire that a friend had picked up. The wire was already fairly round because it came off a spool, so all I had to do was lay the hat down, lay the wire on top in a circle just slightly bigger than the outside of the cloth, and duct tape a bit of overlapping wire to keep its shape. Making the wire a bit bigger than the cloth meant that the wire stayed in place and the brim stayed nicely round and not too floppy. I squished the wire through the head hole, between the two brim circles. I also put a few stitches around the wire through the outer seam, just to keep the wire in place. I hand stitched the brim of the hat to the square top part, since the brim was now very tight with the wire inserted. I did not finish the edge, just sewed the three layers (two brim, one square) together and figured that the seam would be hidden by my head.
I sewed ostrich feathers around the hat by tucking the ends under the square part, and just catching the feathers with a few stitches to keep them in place. I also sewed a couple of ties around the head hole since this style of hat acts like a kite on a windy day, and I did not want to chase the darn thing all over the faire grounds.
Wearing my creation
I wore this dress every day that I was at the Connecticut Renaissance Faire this season, a total of 7 days. I wore it with a plain renaissance chemise underneath, since I ran out of time to make a more historical and geographically correct hemd. I also did not make my own hosen, but wore long stockings with my square toed (often called cow-mouth) shoes. On cold days I wore my wool-lined leather hood which Stephen made for medieval events. Totally not right for the Landsknecht, but really warm and waterproof, so good enough for a first-year endeavor. As the wife of a baron I added some chain necklaces, one that was fake amber beads (though I lost that one after the first weekend) a nice curly chain that my parents brought back from a visit to Lithuania (I do not know what metal it is made of, or if it is historical in any way, but it looks old, and I can’t really wear it anywhere else) and a “gold” chain I got for cheap at a department store.
I wore a woven belt at my waist, mostly to hide the point where the bodice and skirts joined. I wove it on a belt loom out of some nice wool yarn. I wore a second woven belt around my hips so that I could pull my skirt up in a poof around my waist, just like in all the woodcuts. Since the poof around the waist reminds me of the inflatable tubes that kids wear when learning to swim I call the hunk of fabric my swimmie, and now my entire guild group does too. It is so helpful to have the skirts up and out of the way when lugging firewood or bending over a camp fire as well as looking just like a woodcut.
And that is the whole outfit!
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