Sunday, 29 June 2014

Project #3. F.55 - "Skirt of cloth for a woman"

My third project, a "Skirt of cloth for a woman". One of 5 semi-circular skirts (f55 - f57) in the book with different layouts for different types of fabric; cloth, cloth with a nap and silk. Three of them are the same length as the skirt shown here, and two of the skirts are 7cm (approx 2 3/4") longer. The translations I am working from in the facsimile edition of Alcega's tailor's pattern book are a little misleading I discovered, in that they are just described as "skirts". However the word "faldellin" which appears in all the patterns is variously translated elsewhere as underskirt, short skirt, or even an alternate meaning as christening robe. So, given their simple shape and the fact that they are quite a bit shorter that any of the overskirts in the book, I think it's fair to assume that they are in fact underskirts.

Alcega states that this skirt requires a length of fabric 2 ells long x 2 ells wide, or 168cm (approx 66") long x 168cm (approx 66") wide.

Some mathematics and dimensions
The length of the skirt from waistband to hem is given as "bs" or 1 1/6 ells, which translates as 98cm (approx 38 1/2"). Alcega states that the 'main part' of the skirt is cut along the fold, which seems to indicate that the fabric has been folded in half lengthways, reducing the width to one ell wide, or 84cm (approx 33"). The dimension "mo" given at the waist curve is 5/8 of an ell, or 52.5cm (a bit over 20 1/2"), which x 2 gives a generous waist of 105cm (approx 41 1/3"). The dimensions of the piecings aren't specifically given, but given that we have the fabric width and the lengths of the straight edges it should be fairly easy to work this out.

We know that the fabric is 168cm (approx 66") long, and that the waist to hem dimension is described as 98cm (approx 38 1/2"), so if we deduct this length of skirt from the fabric length, then the bottom straight edge of piece B must be around 70cm (approx 27 1/2").

As I don't read Spanish I have to rely on the translation in my edition of the book, and there is a passage in the translation that had me scratching my head. "Allow 1/3 ell and 2 finger's breadths for the curve of the ease, which is marked out above the waistline, and for the curve of the hemline.Thus the skirt will be fully rounded."

Er, say what now? 

1/3 ell and 2 finger's breadths is given as 31.5cm (a little under 12 1/2"). Could it be referring to the some sort of measurement related to drawing the curve of the waist and hemline?

If the skirt is a true half circle, and we know that the waist is 105cm (approx 41 1/3") long, then we should be able to magic up the radius of the curve through haruspicy, the sweat of our brows and a magic little number called pi. 2 x the waistband given would be a 210cm circle (a bit under 82 3/4"), so if we divide this number by pi (3.142 should suffice) we get a diameter of 66.8cm, which halved would be a radius of 33.4cm (approx 13").

This seems pretty close to the 31.5cm (or 12 1/2") mentioned in the paragraph above, so I wonder if this was Alcega's description of the compass point to the left of the waistband where you start drawing the curve? The slight difference in measurement could be a small error, or it could allow for a seam allowance.  (The slightly smaller radius would make a waist measurement less than 105cm, however a seam allowance of a couple of cm would be enough to increase the circumference to the right measurement.)

Comparative lengths, and the waist curve radius. Click to enlarge.

We know the folded fabric width is 84cm (approx 38 1/2"), the radius of the waist curve is 31.5cm (or 12 1/2") and final back seam length of the skirt has to be 98cm (approx 38 1/2"). So, 84cm - 31.5cm means that the length of the back as drawn must be 52.5cm (a bit over 20 1/2"), leaving another 45.5cm (approx 18") in length to be added by the piecing at the centre back.

Developing the pattern
The only bit of weirdness in the pattern is the shape of the piecing top left. To my eyes it looks like the curve is heading in the wrong direction if A meets A, and B meets B. So I had a little play in photo editing software and rotated the pieces into position.

Piece A B rotated into position but not flipped over. Click to enlarge.

Mmmm. Okay. However, if you flip the piece (either flip it if your fabric does not have a wrong and right side, or use the piece from the other side of the folded fabric if it does) the fit, while not exact, is much improved.

Piece A B rotated and flipped. Click to elnarge.

Curious. The other thing noticeable is that if the curve was just drawn heading in the other direction, you could probably squeeze this in without the need to make an even further piecing in B (the little solid line section on B in the original pattern layout). In the accompanying translated text there is mention of the need to take this extra piecing however, so it seems deliberate that the piece was drawn this way. I'm going to follow the layout and description, but flip the pieces when it comes time to sew it together.

I scaled down all the dimensions by roughly one third, to fit the size of my mannequin, and used Alcega's description of the compass point to draw the waist curve and hemline. I grabbed some additional pattern paper and drew the piecings, making sure that the length of the straight edge of A+B = the length of the straight edge A on the main skirt piece, and that total length of the back skirt seam would be the same length as the edge placed on the fold.

My pattern draft, using scaled down dimensions. Click to enlarge.

Putting it together
This is a very simple sew.

The main skirt piece is cut on the fold, as is piece B (however the fold is not utilised on piece B, so you have to slice along the fold so you have two separate pieces).  Piece A B is then cut on the double layer of fabric. The fabric left over in the top right hand corner of the diagram is used to cut the two small pieces needed to complete piece B where the pattern pieces overlap. There should be a little bit of fabric left over on the straight grain to make a waistband (if not, then cut a waistband from another piece of fabric trimmings). I cut my waistband from two half length pieces, but you can make a simple waistband wherever you find sufficient fabric, so long as it is on the straight grain.

Note: because of the small scale I am working in I had to add a small seam allowance to each piece to be able to construct them, so I used a slightly large piece of fabric to accommodate this.

I began by sewing the piecings B and A B together to form one curved piece with a straight edge that corresponded to the length of edge A, and then sewed these to each side of the main skirt piece. I then closed the centre back seam, leaving an opening large enough to slip it over the head and bust of my mannequin. I then made up the waistband strip, and pleated the large waist allowance to the size of the waistband.

There are no instructions regarding pleats or gathers, but it seems logical to me that you would pleat or gather the fairly generous waist allowance into a waistband to suit the wearer's size. I guess you could re-draw the pattern so that the waist diameter is the actual waist measurement, but the end result would be more like a modern a-line skirt, rather than a full underskirt.

Finished skirt front. Click to enlarge.

The calico I am using is a little stiff, so the underskirt hangs in quite an a-line shape. If this was made full scale in a linen then I would imagine the drape would be a little different.

Finished skirt side. Click to enlarge.

I drew over the seam lines to highlight the way the pieces are placed at the back rear of the skirt.

Finished skirt rear. Click to enlarge. 

The skirt back hem is where most of the piecing is evident.

There you have it, a simple underskirt of cloth for a woman. If I have time and energy I might come back and construct the other variants of this for the different types and widths of fabric, because some of the piecings required get very complex (read: cray cray) and that might be worth exploring if I haven't lost my mind by then.

Next up I'll be tacking another skirt, pattern f.58 the "Kirtle of silk for a woman".

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Project #2. F.14 & F.14a - "Silk doublet for a woman"

This is the second project I'll be attempting, and is the first pattern in Alcega's 1589 tailor's pattern book specifically for a woman. The pattern pieces in folios 14 and 14a are identical, with the exception of the layout on the fabric. Consequently I have combined them here as 1 garment.

Both 14 and 14a are described as cut from silk and are specified as using 2 1/2 x 2/3 ells, or 210cm (approx 6' 11") x 56cm (approx 1' 10"). There seems to be no functional difference in the patterns or fabrics, except 14 has the fabric folded in half lengthways, and 14a (below) across ways, so that the selvedges would be on the left and right sides in the layout diagram.

Some mathematics and dimensions
All of the letters on the pattern diagram below are measurement codes (and rather helpfully there is a convenient table of modern equivalents in the translation of the book). Keep in mind that this is a generic ladies' size used primarily to show the amount and layout of fabric required, so if you were attempting to use this pattern to make a doublet at home it would be important to redraw the pattern to your own measurements, while keeping the basic shapes as close to the original as possible.

Having said that, let's look at the dimensions as given.

The 2 piece curving sleeve is shown as 63cm long (approx 2' 1"), with a wrist opening circumference of 21cm (approx 8 1/4") and a top sleeve head of 42cm (approx 1' 4 1/2") combined. The sleeve length is the same as the doublet front, from the base of the throat to the bottom point.

The doublet front is 63cm long (approx 2' 1") from the base of the throat to the bottom of the low front point, the side seams are 21cm long (approx 8 1/4"), and the back length, including collar back, is 42cm long (approx 1' 4 1/2"). There is a measurement given across the front of the doublet, which is presumably for the widest point (across the bust, just under the arm hole), of 31.5cm (just under 12 1/2"), and an equivalent measurement across the doublet back of 24.5cm (just over 9 1/2"). The back waist is shown as 17.5cm across (approx 6 3/4") and the front doublet width 28cm (approx 11"). There is no specific measurement given for the arm hole, and we can check that when we draft everything else, but it can't be larger than the 42cm (approx 1' 4 1/2") sleeve head or the sleeve will not fit..

On the doublet front the neck is shown as 14cm (approx 5 1/2") and the shoulder width is the same. The small separate piece near the doublet front is the front collar and that is also 14cm long, and although the back collar width isn't specifically given we should be able to determine that once we draft everything else.

So many numbers. I have number fatigue.

So, if we apply some of the numbers above we should find that the bust measurement is a fairly generous 112cm (44") and the waist is 90cm (approx 35 1/2"). This does not include any overlap for fastening, as there is clearly no overlap included when you consider the sharp point of the doublet front. Now it is true that I am only a bit of a shorty for a guy at 163cm (5' 4"), but my usual sleeve length is about 56cm (approx 22"). If you consider the length of this sleeve as specified in the pattern, the wearer would be something like 180cm (5' 9") tall, roughly.

My take on this is that the generic size shown on the pattern layouts is deliberately a fairly large size. If you are considering that the use of the book was to give amounts of fabrics and layouts required for different garments and fabrics, then it makes sense to use a large size. Laying out a smaller sized garment would not require any extra fabric than specified.

Developing the pattern
In my previous post I explained how I reworked the original sloper pattern to eliminate the dart, and create a flat pattern that should fit as well as possible. My first step in developing the pattern for the "silk doublet for a woman" was to take the measurements in Alcega and scale them all down by roughly a third to the measurements of my mannequin. As I mentioned in the last post, my mannequin's bust and waist are a little different from the ratio in the Alecga pattern, but other measurements such as width across the shoulders and upper back, the neck circumference etc are all pretty much in scale.

The photo below shows me using the modified sloper pieces to create the pattern. One of the features of the doublets in Alcega are the fact that the back of the collar is cut in one with the doublet back, and you can see me starting to develop that on the lower right. The small piece top right is the rest of the collar, the right edge of which attaches to the curving edge on the doublet back, and the bottom straight edge attaches to the neck opening on the front. (Hard to picture, but it will make sense when I show you the completed collar).

Developing the pattern. Click to enlarge.

The armhole size on the sloper ended up being exactly the right scale for the sleeve head specified in the pattern, and extending the doublet front to the equivalent length specified in the pattern also looked about right. Once I had drawn the sleeves and checked that the dimensions for the other patterns pieces were as close as possible to the pattern sizes in Alcega (allowing for the waist and bust issue), I cut them out and laid them out similar to the pattern diagram in the book.

The finished pattern. Click to enlarge.
Comparing the patterns.

I'm pretty happy with the end result. A couple of things are worth noting however.

After taking this picture I noted that I had drawn the outward flare on the sleeve back at the sleeve head a little too extreme, so I trimmed it back slightly (bottom right and top centre of the picture and diagram). The doublet front is obviously different (to allow for the bust), and the side seam on the doublet front does not angle as sharply, and highlights the different in the waist and bust ratio of my mannequin. The collar piece looks a little out of shape compared to the diagram, but I checked the dimensions of the edge that the collar attaches too and it is the right size. I thought that I might have drawn the collar on the doublet back a little lower than it should be, but it is correct to the measurements given.

In effect what it highlights is the the diagram is not an exact pattern, it's pretty close but if you draft the pieces to the measurements given there are some small differences.

Putting it together
My first step was to sew the 2 piece doublet back together along the centre back seam. Having a centre back seam would have allowed tailors of the time to fit the doublet back closely without the need for any darts, especially if they had issues to contend with such as prominent shoulder blades or a slight forward stoop.

I then attached the front collar pieces to the doublet front, which is quite a tricky manoeuvre as you are attaching a straight edge to a curved one. In the diagram (right) I have colour coded the edges to try make it clearer as to what goes where. I have put together a few doublets for myself using this form of collar construction and personally I find it easiest to attach the collar front first, then when sewing the shoulder seam closed continue up the side of the collar back (shown in blue) as 1 single seam.

I sewed the side seams together, and then sewed the seam along the shoulder and up the collar front to collar back edge.

Here is the thing about this whole collar cut with the doublet back business. I find it a pain in the butt. As I mentioned I have used it on my own doublets, and this was in an effort to be more historically accurate. I find it fiddly to sew together when you get to the shoulder/collar seam, and worst of all it sits poorly at the back of the neck.

Back of the neck ugliness. Click to enlarge (not that you'd want to).

The trick that I've used, and that I have never yet seen in a primary resource (but have it on Good Authority that it was both advocated and used in period) is to take a horizontal crescent shaped tuck across the back of the neck. It eliminates the bulk and helps the collar sit more upright and less tilted forward.

Collar niceness. Click to enlarge.

All this fussing. Why on earth they didn't just cut the collar separately I'll never know. Anyway, moving on.

Unlike modern sleeve patterns the sleeves in this pattern have minimal sleeve head shaping where the sleeve joins the arm hole, and the left and right sleeves are interchangeable. After sewing the two pieces of each sleeve together, I turned the seam allowance under at the wrist and finished that edge. Because of the tiny scale of my mock up I didn't leave any opening for closures at the back of the wrist, but if I was making this full scale I would leave something like 5 - 10cm (2 - 4") open at the bottom of the outward curving edge of the sleeve for an opening to allow the hand to pass through easily. This could then be closed with buttons.

Modern sleeves tend to give you a clear indication of where they fit in the arm hole, by notches indicated in the pattern or sometimes by their very shape. These sleeves don't give you any such clear indicators, but there is a subtle one if you look at the shape of the sleeve itself. There is a slight outward flare at the back of the sleeve head, and if you consider how the body moves the most sensible place to allow for some extra roominess would be at the back of the arm near the shoulder blades. This would then place the inner curve of the curved sleeve along the front of the arm, where cunningly your arm normally curves forward. A quick look at similar doublets in period portraits seems to back up this theory.

Portrait of a Lady, attributed to Sofonisba Anguissola.

Note the braid covered seam line along the front of the sleeve. Exactly where we would expect it to be!

I inset the sleeves with the back of the sleeve at the back of the arm hole, in line with the shoulder blades. The front seam then ended up at the front of the armhole, and the sleeves curved gently forward in a similar stance to that of the portrait above. Once the sleeves were in the basic doublet was essentially completed.

Sleeve seam at the rear of the arm hole. Click to enlarge.

I whip stitched the doublet front closed (in lieu of trying to create teeny tiny buttons and buttonholes!) and I'm pretty happy with the result.

Doublet front. Click to enlarge.

Finished doublet. Click to enlarge.

Let's pretend there are some arms filling out those sleeves. One thing about this style of sleeve is that because there is so little shaping in the sleeve head it allows a large range of movement, but the trade off is that you do end up with a bit more fabric bulk in the armpit than we are used to these days. It's hard to get them hanging attractively on the mannequin, but I think they are doing exactly what they should be doing and hanging correctly.

Detail, portrait of Isabel Clara Eugenia.

This style of doublet seems to frequently appear as the highly decorated under layer in formal clothing. If you were creating this garment in silk as a high status garment, you could trim the lower edge of the doublet with tabs (as above), and use small tabs at the wrist and collar edges. Horizontal lines of braid across the main body of the garment, horizontal or slanting lines of braid on the sleeves, and/or rows of pinking or embroidery would also be appropriate. 

If you simplified the decoration, and perhaps kept the ideas of tabs at the waist, ran a line of braid over all of the construction seams and one or two rows up the doublet front, then this doublet could also make a lovely more middle class style garment too.

Next I'll be tackling the F.55 "Skirt of cloth for a woman".

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Bust Dart Dilemmas

The next pattern I'll be tackling is a doublet, so in preparation it was time to try and eliminate the bust dart from the basic sloper I made and try and get the best fit possible from a flat pattern shape. All of the patterns in Alcega are what today would be referred to as "flat patterns", a pattern without any darts used to help the fabric conform in 3D to the body. All the shaping comes from the major seams, and so the placement and curvature of the seams are vital in helping the fabric lie as smoothly as possible over the lumps and bumps of the human body.

To add another layer of complexity, the dimensions of my little mannequin are a little off in regards to the bust to waist ratio in comparison to most of the patterns in Alcega. My mannequin's bust to waist ratio is 1:0.7 and in Alcega the doublet pattern I am about to draft is roughly 1:0.8. Or in other words, the generic size given in Alcega is roughly the same bust dimension but the waist is a little thicker. I could pad the mannequin, but I actually like the challenge of drafting the patterns to fit, as I would if I was actually using Alcega's pattern book as a pattern source to clothe a human being.

Original sloper. Click to enlarge.
On the original sloper pattern I had marked the bust point (BP), or the point on each side where the bust is most prominent. (Pretty much where the nipple would sit on a well supported breast.) I had drafted the original bust dart so that it almost reached the bust point, while stopping a little short to avoid the 50's style pointy boob syndrome and allowing the fabric to still curve snugly over the bust.

Manipulating the dart. Click to enlarge.
The BP is a vital pattern marking for a woman's pattern, especially if you plan to modify or eliminate darts. It is the radial point from which all of the darts usually take their reference. The first thing I did was trace my basic sloper onto some sturdier card, and redraw the bust dart slightly so that it started right on the BP (while keeping the width of the dart the same at the shoulder). I then cut along one side of the dart, and overlapped the cut edge to the other side and taped it closed from the underside. At this point the pattern piece cannot lie flat, so in order to allow it to you need to open the pattern piece up at one or more other points.

If you are using darts then normally you would slash a new opening from the BP down to the waist to make a new dart, or from the BP across to under the arm hole (for instance). As we are trying to get rid of all darts though what we need to do is redistribute the fullness from the original dart elsewhere without making the waist huge, or changing the size of the armhole, or significantly distorting the basic shape so that it no longer fits.

Work in progress, checking the fit. Click to enlarge.
Once I had opened the modified sloper at a number of points it became clear that I would need to adjust the fullness all round to minimise making the waist or side seams too large. In the end I used modest openings at the side and waist, and opened a cut across from the BP to the front edge, creating a curved front. Not absolutely ideal as the doublet fronts are all straight in Alcega, but one of the only ways to allow for the prominent bust without deforming the shape too much.

The back sloper piece didn't require modification, so I traced around the back and the modified front onto calico, re-drew the side seam to be straight, and then closed up that seam and tested the fit on the mannequin. I pinned a few small adjustments, and re-drew the armhole slightly to eliminate as much of the fullness gathering there without making it too large.

Testing the back fit, and moving the seam. Click to enlarge.
While I had it on the form I also took the opportunity to re-draw side seam so that it more closely followed the back shaping of the doublets in the book.

Modified sloper pieces. Click to enlarge.
And there we have it. The modified sloper now has a curved front, a narrower back, a slightly reshaped arm hole and the side seam moved further towards the back. The next step will be to trace around this onto pattern paper, and then use this pattern as the basis for drafting the next project, the "silk doublet for a woman". Where the challenge will lie is in keeping the essential style lines of the garments in Alcega, while allowing for the modifications we had to make in order to fit a flat pattern.

Next up, f.14 & f.14a the "Silk Doublet for a woman".

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Project #1. F.67 -"Silk farthingale for a woman"

For my first reconstruction I'm actually jumping forward to one of the last patterns in the book, and one of the few that are underpinnings. It therefore makes sense to start with the "Silk farthingale for a woman" so that it can provide the suitable under structure for future garments. For a great overview of this style of "verdugado" or farthingale visit this page on

Fabric dimensions are given as 6 x 2/3 ells, or 5.04m (approx 16' 6") x 56cm (approx 1' 10").

Some mathematics & dimensions
Alcega instructs that the front and back main sections of the farthingale (left and centre respectively in the picture below) are cut with the fabric folded in half lengthways, reducing the width to 28cm (approx 11"). Then the godets (A for the front and B for the back) are cut with the remaining fabric folded across ways, using the full 56cm (approx 1' 10") width.

The measurement symbol "bm" on the front and back sections of the skirt = 126cm (approx 4' 1 1/2"), which means that allowing for a little extra for wastage where the waist and hem curves are this should take up around 2.6m (approx 8' 6"), leaving around 2.44m (approx 8' for the godets. This would mean that each godet is just a fraction smaller than the front and back sections, which from the diagram looks about right.

So, this all seems fairly straightforward in terms of the lengths of the pieces. At first glance I was disheartened thinking that Alcega had given no dimensions for the godets, but then I realised he had. We have established the approximate lengths of the godets using some maths, but the widths aren't immediately apparent.

It was then that I looked at the dimensions given on the front and back sections and realised that the hem and waist dimensions must include the godets. The hem of the front is given as "sb", which equals 70cm (approx 27 1/2"), but we have established already that the folded fabric is only 28cm (approx 11") wide. Bingo! The difference of 42cm (approx 1' 4 1/2") must be width of the hems for the godets. Judging by the diagram this would also look about right when you consider the full width of the fabric is being used.

The English translation in my edition states that Alcega notes that the front of the farthingale is larger than the back, however this contradicts his statement that the pattern piece on the left is the front piece, with the back piece cut next to it. You can see this in the waist measurements of the front and back sections. The measurement symbol "QQQ" for the back waist equals 63cm (approx 2' 1"), or about 7cm (approx 2 3/4") larger than the fabric width. This would also explain the flattened point at the waist edge of godet B, and the slight difference in angle of the bias edge as the hem is the same width but the waist is a little larger. The front section waist is shown as "t", which is equivalent to the width of the fabric.

I elected to follow the original statement that the piece with the smaller waist measurement is the front of the farthingale.

Whew. I hope you're still with me.

Therefore, the rough dimensions of the farthingale pattern pieces are waist = 182cm (a bit over 71 1/2"), drop from waist to hem = 126cm (approx 4' 1 1/2"), and the circumference at the hem = 280cm (approx 9' 2"). Alcega describes the finished width (he actually means circumference) as 13 hand spans wide, or roughly 273cm, which seems about right once you consider seam allowances.

I think a couple of things can be extrapolated from this:
  1. the farthingale is probably designed as a drawstring or gathered waist (no waistband is given or mentioned, but that doesn't mean it might not have been made from scraps?), however for my purposes I'm going with a drawstring
  2. the length to me initially seemed quite long, however I compared it to the dimensions elsewhere in Alcega for the front of over skirts and it is the same as most of them. (I have heard the theory that all the skirts in Alcega are quite long to allow for the high chopine shoes that were in fashion at the time. Your guess is as good as mine.) I had assumed it was probably designed for a number of horizontal tucks to be taken as casings for some form of hoop but now I doubt that is the case. Although the farthingale should no doubt be slightly shorter than the over skirt, tucks would probably make it way too short. I'll be applying a small casing strip instead,
  3. the finished diameter at the hem would be about 90cm (just under 3'), which would seem a reasonable width for walking, and give the farthingale an elegant and fairly narrow conical shape.
Detail of Spanish Women from The Trachtenbuch of Christoph Weiditz, 1505.

Alcega's construction notes
Alcega notes some important points regarding construction. The front and back sections do not utilise the fold, they are cut as separate pieces. Godet A is attached straight edge to straight edge to the front section (easy enough). Godet B is attached bias edge to straight edge, which must mean that you must have to flip the pattern pieces so that the bias edge of the godet meets the straight edge of the back section. He then notes that the side seams of the farthingale are straight edges, which only works if you place the bias edges of the godets at the CF and CB. He also states that there will be no bias edge on the sides, nor will it protrude on any side.

Putting it all together
Click to enlarge
The skirt panels went together pretty easily. One thing I thought might happen was that the bottom hem would be a bit up and down, and that came to pass. Trying to accurately draw the right curves, and take into account the length on the bias hypotenuse etc, means that the hem needed a bit of a trim. Especially the way the godets are drawn in the pattern they don't have a bottom curve, either by oversight or by design I'm not sure. When you sew them in they hang below the level of the hem. I actually don't care about this because it's easy enough and neater to trim the hem even.

Because I am working at a small scale I also had to add seam allowance to the pieces, which meant adjusting the layout on the fabric slightly, but not significantly.

Click to enlarge
I turned over the seam allowance at the waist of the farthingale and added a cotton twine drawstring. At this stage I haven't yet closed the back seam, and I will wait until the casings for the bonings are on as they will be easier to apply flat. But trying it on the form I'm happy with the volume and shape of the farthingale so far.

It's worth noting that if you are looking at other reconstructions of this farthingale online, a few people get the construction wrong by placing the back godets B at the side. The problem seems to stem from an error made by Janet Arnold in "Patterns of Fashion", possibly because she may not have had an accurate translation of the Spanish text. Also, the way the godet B is drawn in the pattern the small curve at the top waistband edge is a little off, shown curving down slightly when it would be better more flat or even curving slightly the other way. It's not a big error and doesn't really affect the construction. It may have been enough to confuse some reconstructionists however.

Hoop channels. Click to enlarge
I cut narrow bias strips and applied them at 5cm (approx 2") intervals, following the curve of the hemline. (The picture shows the top casing partially sewn on, and the lower casings have been applied and the narrow and moderately stiff plastic tubing I decided to use to form the hoops is in place.) No dimensions or details for the hoops are given in Alcega, but if you were constructing this at full scale I would place the first hoop at roughly hip level, and then divide the distance between that and the hem by the number of hoops. I used 6 hoops, and at full scale they would be roughly 15cm (6 inches) apart. I tried to keep the base layer of the farthingale as flat as possible, and the casing semi circular. It's worth noting that the length of the farthingale was still reduced slightly by the casing channels, so the finished farthingale would automatically be slightly shorter than an overskirt with the same given length.

Front. Click to enlarge
The finished farthingale, and I couldn't be happier with it. Alcega's point of the farthingale not protruding on the side I took to mean that the finished item will be oval in shape, and that is exactly how it hangs on the mannequin. The front and rear godets extend the hem slightly at front and back into a gentle oval.

Back. Click to enlarge
I left a small gap between the hoop channels at the centre back seam so that once the seam was closed I would be able to reinsert the tubing. I also rotated the joins in the tubing to the left or right on the alternating channels to avoid a line of joins. This seemed to help keep a nice smooth shape. I left the centre back seam open at the top near the drawstring, but honestly the waist is cut so large that you could almost close this all the way up and the garment would still fit over hips or shoulders.

Also, in hidsight I would raise the starting point of the top hoop slightly to be closer to the hip line. Mine is just a little low I think. I would then either space the hoops slightly further apart or decrease the distance and add in a 7th hoop.

Profile. Click to enlarge
I think the decision to place the narrower pieces and godet A at the front was correct but there is some guesswork here. The finished profile shows how the front hem protrudes slightly and would aid walking. Rotating the skirt would give a flatter front, with the back angled slightly backwards in line with a train. If anyone has thoughts on my assumptions I'd love to hear your feedback.

Also, the hoop material I used is only moderately stiff, so if something stiffer like reeds were used potentially the finished shape would be more circular. I would also imagine that the weight of over skirts would also compress the shape to be a little more circular.

Above. Click to enlarge
One last pic, and this time the scale of my dummy fortunately allows for an overhead shot. You can see that the finished shape is moderately oval but not too exaggerated. I think the finished farthingale has a lovely elegant line to it.

My aim here is to explore the patterns and figure out how they go together by experimenting with them in scale. I do understand therefore that I haven't fully explored things like what type of material would be used to construct hoops for a full sized reconstruction. If you are interested in making a farthingale to Alcega's instructions, I would urge you to look at other reconstructions and perhaps explore the links at the top of this post. Hopefully my thoughts on the pattern and construction will help you along the way.

Next I will be jumping back to the first of the women's patterns in the book and looking at the pattern and construction of f.14 & f.14a the "Silk doublet for a woman".

This first post has already created quite a bit of discussion on the Elizabethan Costume facebook group, and prompted a fantastic re-translation of the Spanish text by Matthew Gnagy. (Oh how I wish I could read Spanish.) My interpretation of how to place the godets is the main point of discussion, along with the decision not to utilise the fold when cutting out the front and back sections. This is wonderful, and one of the reasons I am undertaking this project is to learn by doing and to explore the nature of these patterns. Getting alternate points of view is an important part of that process.

If you intend on reconstructing the farthingale yourself I would suggest looking at other reconstructions as well, because my interpretation is only one of several.