-1560s- cleves gown, velvet

Status: Unwearable, completely unpicked after being ruined after a house fire.

Year finished: 2006

To Do: remake in maroon silk with silk satin guards (already cut)

Updates since last photo:  unpicked and used as a template for a more accurate gown in muted shades of matte (faille) and semi matte (duchesse satin) silk, new partlet made from sheelinen in progress as well as very sheer linen suite of ruffs- in progress

Inspiration: c1560s portraits from Cologne, anonymous and by known masters.

After a house fire in 2007 this dress was in poor shape and is being restored currently. The headdress also requires extensive repair with a new base support and new bezants and sequins. The new gown will be the red velveteen with a heavier velvet border and a faux ermine lining so I can save the vintage velvet lining for other projects.

After several years of collecting images of portraits of women from the region around Cologne I set about recreating a gown suitable to the third quarter of the 16thC of this region.

I chose velveteen as the principle material as most portraits show a very matte dappled surface that suggests a short pile velvet or fuzzy wool, or a woolen plush piles fabric. I choose the colour red based on a few pieces of aftrwork from around the region, which makes this dress more suitable for the city of Cleves.

The skirt is made from unshaped panels in the back which are roll pleated to the bodice. the front skirt panels overlap at the waist (as seen in Cologne portraits of the time and most famously in Anne of Cleve’ portrait by Holbein) and are made from shaped gores to fit smoothly at the waist and flare to the hem. The skirt is entirely made as one piece ditto the bodice.

The skirt is whipped to the bodice at the front and the top edge of the roll pleats also whipped to the bodice (the pleats held in rolls with a mix of whipping and stab stitch).

The sleeves are fitted to the elbow with seams up the back. the extremely wide guards make up the bulk of the  hanging part of the sleeves and are an elongated D shape.

The bodice has a square neckline as based on several obscure and hard to see images for groups of donors and their children in paintings of the time and region.

Worn over a fitted haube (cap) made from a D shaped piece of saree with a brocaded edge. Hair is pinned in plaits over the top of the head and proved a support to pin (clothing pins not hair pins) to the hat.


Gurtel (girdle/belt) made from multiple bracelets joined with jewelry findings. Central plaque was finally made from layers of filligree brass wired to shape. Since superceeded again) with a solid cast roundel purchased as a fashion item.

The medallion is an SCA token for servies to the Arts and Sciences, an AoA level Order of the Lily. I now wear the set of necklaces with my Oder of the Laurel medallion as a weighty reminder of the charges of this title. I also wear the Lily close to my neck to remind myself of where I started.