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I'm going to make a couple of Gothic fitted gowns. I've made one before but I lost 20 pounds and it wasn't so fitted after that so I sold it. :-)

I honestly like the method shown at but I really, truly, don't think it's period. First, it wastes fabric. Anything that wastes large amounts of fabric (aka, where you have to throw away fabric) probably wasn't done. Draping required that you lose a bunch of fabric that otherwise could be salvaged for gussests, sleeves, and other small jobs. Heck, even a patch or three. :-)
Second, even the lady that did the website points out that buttons on the front of the fitted gown is very rare. I've tried to look for it myself and can't find them in any of my books or online.

What I am finding online is interesting. It looks like almost all the gowns have a line right under the bust and either a thin, almost invisible line down the front or on the sides. Although a bit late for the "traditional" gothic gown, this painting is great because it shows the lines in the bodice part of the gown perfectly.

You can see the bust part consists of two oblong trapizodal like shapes, most likely cut along the bias to accommodate the bust. The gown is "fitted" beneath the bust using two pieces of rectangular fabric that probably flow to the floor and have gores or gussets on the sides.

Although the above is meant to be allegorical, the dress is inline with many seen in various illuminations and other art works. Notice it has both side and front lacing (similar to what is most likely going on here in this illumination. There appears to be a thin line beneath the bust, again, suggesting that the bust area is cut separately from the rest of the gown and then sewn in. You can also see a thin line going over Ceres' hip and down toward the front center showing one of the gores of the gown.

So, for the layout of the Gothic fitted gown, I'm going to use two rectangles of about 45" in length and about ~16" across; basically the length from the underbust to the floor and half the "width" of the underbust (plus seam allowance). I'll have two trapezoidal pieces for the bust, cut along the bias, and sleeve pieces. I'll also have gores for either side of the dress. (Although the dresses look very full, it looks like that has to do with large side gores and not a front gore.)

Some other paintings/illuminations with the gothic fitted dress:

So, I've started on this project. It will once again be in the indigo blue linen and this time lined with the rest of the red/white linen crossweave that I have left over. Basically, the same fabric I used for the Viking outfit. That's the good thing about solid (ish) colors; they are timeless.
I'll post pictures when I get it half way decently sewn and whenever I find my camera. I think my car ate it. Or Ginsie did.

Date: 2007-11-20 03:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

The white lines that you're seeing in Ceres' gown are the flowery patterns of the background which have been etched in the paper prior to adding the pigments.

I have a gigantic version of the Magdalena portrait at home as well and there's absolutely no seam under the bust, just a small crease as she is seated and bending forward. I have reproduced many versions of these kirtles, they can be found on my page here ;

The only version that I haven't made yet with this style (though I have tried with others) is the full circle skirt, which also works great. The most economy saving and accurate period design for this type of kirtle would be this kind of layout ;

If you want an idea of the construction of 14th century gowns, you should look-up extant garments ;

There's no evidence of back lacing anywhere on the planet that we know of, most gowns were passed over the head, even the very fitted ones. Some later exemples had side or front lacing or front buttoning.

Date: 2007-11-20 12:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I personally think there are tons of ways to make this style gown. The Magdalena portrait sketch here:
Shows the lines beneath the bust again and they just look to "perfect" to be a crease. Now, that maybe it all it is but the crease appears in a lot of paintings and illuminations from the late 14th into the 15th c.
The extant gaments seem to more mimic the known Italian styles of the time as in:
Which are very different in style to the laced fitted gowns.

And there is evidence of back lacing in the later 1400's, just not at this point. I forget the illumination but there is one where the lady has her back turned (around 1490 I think?) and you can clearly see lacing up the back.

By no means am I saying I'm right but I'm just taking a slightly different interpretations of the various illuminations and paintings. Plus, I think you were looking at later (post 1450) while I was looking at earlier (pre 1450) so the styles could have changed (and drastically at that point).

On the Effigy of the Countess of Warwick you can also see a line beneath the bust. This was made a good 70 years prior so some of the lines of the gowns had changed (particularly the necklines) but the bust line remained.

Even on Cecco d’Ascoli: L’Acerba; Physionomia's, the green lady which is the first picture up on the underbust line exists.

Now, yes, this could all be creases or a way to do shawdowing but the lines look too perfectly across and not "rounded" to my eyes to be creases. They just look more like seams. Later on, this looks to be done away with and the under arms are given more material (aka, they figured out shaping) to accommodate the bust.

Just a different interpretation of what we have left from the late 14th into the 15th century. :-) (Personally, from what I've seen, there were a bunch of different types of gowns. Some were loose, some were fitted, some had the seam under the bust, some didn't, some made you look flat chested and some required a belt under the bust to keep everything up. Just like today, they had more than one style to wear out.)

Date: 2007-11-20 08:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

I appologize, I'm confused,

I must have been tired and unable to get my brains working when I read your post late last night, I have missunderstood what you were saying. Perhaps I have missed one of your previous posts where you were giving more details about your project?

I had understood that you were making a 14th century cotehardie along with a supportive kirtle to wear underneat, that's why you were making reference to later 15th century undergarments. Yes of course, I do have evidence of back lacing in my files, in fact, as far as I know, I think that I was the first person on the web to find evidence of this, but I don't have anything prior to late 15th century or 16th century, so I didn't think that it applied to your 14th century project.

As far as the alledged seam under the breast goes, I still strongly believe that it's only a crease, especialy on the lady's effigy as you can crearly see the fold of the fabric and the relief that the layers create, which is a normal reaction of the fabric considering her big belly. Weyden always traces his seams very dark and precise, I don't see any line that goes accross the gown anywhere neither on the sketch nor on the huge painting reproduction that I have at home, only sketchy grey shading. But I'm not basing myself on period art in order to com to this conclusion, I'm mearly making a statement based on my 31 years of sewing. Any fitted gown will create such a line under the breast if it isn't cut to follow the curves of the body, especialy if another supportive garment is worn underneat. This occurs when I wear *ALL* of my kirtles. Unfortunatly, I generaly photoshop every picture before posting to the internet and so I remove every unwanted creases from the pictures, so I only have evidence of this on my very old pictures. But I will try to keep an original version of my pictures the next time that I make a kirtle or cote, just for the sake of it. Here's one exemple however ;

Date: 2007-11-20 10:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
pretty! i was planning on doing something like this anyways but, tell you what: I'll make one with the underbust line and one without just to see if there is a difference in the silhouette/posture/ect. That way it can be a fun "theory" testing project rather than a "this way was the way everyone did it, see?" project. Not that is was going to be the later but you get the idea. Which ever comes closest to the period (I'm aiming for 1420's) silhouette will get to be the pattern for my lavender fitted gown (which has matching dark wool that is oh so pretty together and needs to be "special").

As for the back lacing...the only things I have that are back lacing are my 16th c gowns. So don't know on that one since the discussion hasn't been re-ignited for ummm...months now? hehehe....

Date: 2007-11-20 11:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

If this could help...

From my own experience with blouses, tops, dresses and coats that had seams under the bust, I can say that it only works well if you have a generous pair of boobies, otherwise the seam doesn't sit where it's supposed to sit. As you move, it generaly tends to go up at breast level rather than bellow, especialy if the garment is fitted as it won't drop back into place when standing back normaly as opposed to a slack garment. That's the one problem I've experimented so far with customer's clothing. Other than that, it works great.

I can't wait to see the results. Please post when you're done. Good luck with your project :)


Date: 2007-11-21 12:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm a 38 D currently with a 29 1/2" waist. It's pretty safe to say I'm on the generous side. :-D And this is after I had surgery to get 'em smaller. Okay, the surgery was a good 10 years ago almost now but I was a 42ddd we think. It's kinda hard to figure out when you are that big up top and only have a 27" waist. ...I really want my 27" waist back...

so ummm yeah, there is an ulterior motive going on here....and that's it! :-) But saying "I wanna do this because I'm big up top" sounds very shallow and modern. I do want to try it because I doubt it's as modern as we think (the Italians certainly had it a 100 years later, although in a different form) and I really think it will keep me up better than not having it.


Date: 2007-11-21 04:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

Hurray for big boobies!!! :D


Date: 2007-12-17 08:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
ok. I gotta ask -- I feel your pain 'cept I got more Ds than you did. Technically, I think I'm a 34G -- and I've got your waist too.

Assuming that dropping the rest of the post-Paxil 40 pounds doesn't drop them in size, I'm considering surgery especially if I can get insurance to cover it.

How did your surgery go? Would you do it again? Suggestions/comments/etc .....


Date: 2007-12-17 08:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
My surgery went pretty poorly but I would do it again with a few things in mind. Ask the surgeron for an IV of low level antiboitics both before and after the surgery as a safety precaution. I didn't (I was around 18~21 at the time.) and my stiches re opened three times. I had to go back under to close them twice...both times without the antibiotics. The third time, the doctor gave me an antibioic cream to put on what was left of the stitches. The wounds finally healed (two months later) and left horrible scarring that I will eventually get removed.
The areas close to the stiches are still numb to a degree. Part of that is probably my problems with the lack of antibiotics during the operation although I've heard other women complain of the same problem. It's not severe but it is something you notice to a degree. It kinda feels like you still have a bra on even when you don't sometimes. You get the "phantom itches" syndrom where you can feel something itching but that piece of skin is either now inside or no longer existant.

The very good side to all of this: My clothes fit. I look proportional. My back doesn't hurt nearly as much anymore. My shoulders are no longer about to break and the indents on my collar bone from the bra straps are almost no existant anymore. (I can still feel them but you don't see it anymore to the naked eye. You need X-rays) I'm sure if you ask for antibiotics, that it will go smoothly.


Date: 2007-12-19 04:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Well, I've got mitral-valve prolapse, so antibiotics are required for any surgical procedure -- even getting my teeth cleaned.

*giggle* I almost *never* not have on a bra -- I've slept in one since I was about 16 -- more comfortable that way.

Thanks for the feedback; I appreciate it!

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