Construction started 28 April, 2007 - Finished 6 May, 2007
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Research and background

Running costs

Cut of wool, given by HE Helwig 0 kr
White linen from stash (~1 m @ 59 kr) 59 kr
Fingerlooped cord, self-made 0 kr
3 pairs hooks/eyes 0 kr

Total: 59 kr
I had, for some time, been looking for a reason to make boy-clothes. Specifically, I wanted to try the strange and wonderful shapes seen in menswear of the 16th Century. At last year's Double Wars xix, there were rumours that instead of a Girl's night, Styringheim would next year host a Boy's night party. Fast forward to late March of this year and there were even more rumours about this, and now, it seemed a certainty that it would happen. In addition, a Mustasche party had been promised. Splendid! thought I, and started accumulating some image references for myself.

In addition to looking at portraiture, I did an inventory of my wardrobe, and found that I already had quite a number of items suitable for the project; namely: The only thing missing in the above list to make a male outfit of the late 16th century was a pair of breeches of some description, and so I looked mostly for full-figure portraits of gentlemen, and found several likely fellows wearing what we now call "Venetians".

I was not alone in wanting to make an effort for this year's theme party either - Her Excellency Helwig, who hosts the Aros sewing circles, also wanted to be silly with me, so we planned to spend one sewing circle on constructing patterns for our male selves.

MaterialsOn said dedicated sewing circle day Helwig chose paned slops, while I chose the simpler, Venetian, style. The wool fabric coordinated nicely with my pre-existing doublet, which was the reason Helwig had pulled it out from her large stash of off-cuts and remnants and offered it to me.

Pattern Production

Pattern makingI decided to look to Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion: The cut and construction of clothes for men and women c1560-1620 for my pattern. There on pages 86-87 I found a pair of breeches or Venetians from 1615-20, and so armed with the book, chalk and measuring tape I proceeded to draw the pattern directly onto the fabric, folded double. I had to adjust some measurements in order to fit on my fabric width, so where the full width of the original pattern is 40 inches, mine ended up only 30 inches (i.e. half my fabric width) wide. I was, however, delighted to find that the inner leg length of the originals suited my legs at once.

Since my fabric constrained the size of my breeches, the biggest difference betwen them and the original is in the angle of the leg seams. Mine are not nearly as off grain. However, the great advantage of using this pattern meant that there was only two pattern pieces to cope with. Plus the waistline.

When trying the breeches on for the first time with the lining stitched on, I decided that the profile in front lacked a certain terrain. Although research turns up no evidence for codpieces on Venetian style breeches, I decided to add one, just because they are funny and silly on a woman, and because they camouflage that lack of a certain appendage.

A pattern was needed for this piece, and favouring a simple, small, understated look I turned to Jane Malcolm-Davies & Ninya Mikhaila's The Tudor Tailor, page 60, where a simple pattern is to be found.


MaterialsArmed with pattern and instructions and a willingness to use the sewing machine I began assembly on my Venetian breeches. Step the first was to cut out the breeches in a simple white linen, to be used as flatlining. The genius of flatlining is that you treat shell and lining as one layer, and the assembly could be started.

I am sure I flouted all rules of sewing a pair of trousers together when I started by stitching the back seam together from waistline to the start of the legs. I continued with the front seam, going from the start of the legs up to where the bend of the front turned to the fly. I left the top bit open.

The inseam was next, and then it was time to finish the seams in some manner. Here I abandoned the machine, pressed the seams open, clipped the linen and turned the wool under and slipstitched the seam allowances down all around my breeches by hand. At this point I also folded down the top of my breeches by about 2 inches and stitched it down, figuring it would work as support for future pleats at the waist.

Step the next was figuring out a waistline. I measured on myself, cut a rectangular strip to that length (plus seam allowance) by 3 inches high. I folded in the seam allowance and pinned the waistline of the breeches to this strip right sides together. The breeches were of course much too large on me, so I went by the divide-and-conquer method to box-pleat them into the waist. This produced a total of eight box pleats, which I stitched down on the machine, attaching the waistline at the same time. Then I folded the strip over and to the inside, as one does with a bias facing, and stitched it down at the same time topstitching the outside of the waistline as neatly as possible. There was at this point quite a lot of layers to stitch through.

Trying on the breeches without the codpieceI could now try my Venetian breeches on properly for the first time, and mark where to end the legs in order that they come to directly below the knee. The lower end of the legs is a sine-curve, which I thought very crafty. I had assistance pinning the legs to the proper length, and could then cut off the excess and fold in a seam allowance, clipping and grading before folding shell and lining in toward each other for a neat finish. Hemstitching from the inside produced the look of topstitching on the outside, which added a nice touch to the legs. I also attached a pair of hooks and eyes to either leg, in order that they appear snug below the knee, as the last 4 inches of the inseam is left open.

Pattern makingThe lower portion of the breeches being finished I looked to the fly. The codpiece was cut out of the wool and assembled as much as possible on the machine. The "cod" itself is stuffed with fibre-fill to a satisfactorily full feel. I stitched the lower point of the finished codpiece triandle to the lower end of the open fly, and added a pair of hand-worked eyelets to either point of the top edge, corresponding to pairs of eyelets on the front of the breeches.

The fly of the breeches I then worked with three pairs of eyelets from just below the waistline to the top of the codpiece flap, and one hook and corresponding eye at the waistline. The original is closed with buttons, but I did not want to stitch buttonholes, and a laced fly is not out of period. All that remained then was a set of lace-tabs placed at suitable spots around the waistline to point the breeches to the doublet when worn, as trial had shown them to gap without it. The original has a number of hooks set around the waistline, presumably to hook onto eyes in the doublet.


Finished - front view Finished - side view Finished - back view Finished - Full outfit

Photo Gallery

For images I may not have linked in the diary, close-ups and overviews et cetera please have a look at the photo gallery.

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