Make your own peascod belly with our pattern!
Buy our full-size paper patterns with complete instructions and historical notes for man's doublet circa 1570s-1600. Included are instructions for optional peascod belly. Fits chests 34"-54". All sizes included in one envelope. Embellishment suggestions included.
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wool, heavyweight silk
lightweight silk or linen for lining
heavy linen or canvas for interlining
3 yds at least 45" wide
wool felt or padding for belly
up to 30-5/8" buttons for front closure
cotton or wool batting (optional)
7-5/8" buttons for arm closure (optional)
silk ribbon (optional)
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Below is an excerpt from the historical notes you will receive as part of this pattern:
Men’s Doublets 1560s-1600
The doublet was a staple of a man’s wardrobe from the late 14th century until the middle of the 17th century. From its origins as an undergarment worn to support the hosen, the doublet evolved into an outer garment in its own right. All classes of society wore the doublet. In some instances, even women wore it.
By the middle of the 16th century, this finely-tailored piece of clothing was decorated elaborately on the outside with braid and silk cord, but the interior hid a highly-engineered construction designed to shape the wearer into the fashionable silhouette of the time. And as fashionable silhouettes changed, the interior construction of doublets changed to match.
In the third quarter of the 16th century, this shape included a prosthetic that modern minds may find strange — the peascod belly. This extra padding at the front waistline of the doublet created the illusion of a large paunch where the owner’s was lacking in sufficient breadth and a small paunch where none existed at all. It can only be assumed that men of this period with flat abdomens were not thought of as possessing a pleasing shape. Certainly the existence of a few surplus pounds around the middle suggested not only that the man in question had more than enough food at his disposal (and was therefore, prosperous in business), but it also gave a suggestion of age, and therefore wisdom and maturity, that the man may not yet have attained.
As early as the 1560s, there is a decided rounding of the front of the doublet although no overt padding is apparent yet. The beginnings of this trend are demonstrated by a portrait of King Don Sebastian of Portugal painted by Cristoforo Morales in 1565 that hangs in the Monasterio de las Descalzas Preales in Madrid, Spain. An illustration after this painting can be seen at left.
Don Garzia de Medici’s burial suit of 1562 (illustrated at right) and Cosimo de Medici’s red satin doublet from 1574 (both in the collection of the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, Italy) show this curved front closure well. A youth’s padded arming doublet from the 1560s and kept by Lord Astor at Hever Castle in Kent, England displays the curved belly even more clearly.
An English example of this style is housed in the Grimsthrope and Drummond Castel Trust Ltd. The doublet of mulberry silk and uncut velvet is decorated with dark purple braid in silk and metal. It has 42 buttons on front, and 5 on each sleeve. The body of the garment is backed with white woolen cloth and lined with white fustian. The belly area is padded with wool or cotton wool 1/4” thick at neck increasing to 7/8” at waist. There are 50 eyelets in the waistband for the attachment of the breeches.
Don Garzia de Medici’s dark crimson satin and velvet burial suit, 1562 A bright green satin doublet dated 1605-1610 is housed in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nürnberg, Germany (donated by the Duke of Sachsen-Altenburg with armour in 1936). Possibly arming doublet, this specimen shows the particularly German fashion for peascod bellies paired with high waists.
A red patterned velvet doublet in Niedersachsische Landesgalerie, Hanover, worn by Herzog Moritz von Schsen-Lauenberg (d 1612) shows similar characteristics. Both are heavily-padded front and side with cotton wool, peascod with high waist. They are pinked and cut, revealing green silk linings. The padding is sewn to white linen foundation.
A 1580s illustration in the Biblioteque National in Paris, France of a tennis player (illustrated at left) shows the peascod belly doublet worn with breeches. An exaggerated version is seen in Nicholas Hillard’s “Portrait of a Young Man” circa 1588. The point of the doublet has descended well below the waistline and the trunk hose are correspondingly short. This extreme look may have been the French fashion as it is seen in numerous French paintings of the time period, including the one represented at right of a Ball at the Valois Court circa 1582 by Coulery hanging in the Rennes Museum. A 1572 portrait of Francis, Duke of Alençon by the French school echoes this same style. De Gheyn “Standard Bearer” (c.1587 in the New York Public Library, Prints Division) shows a similar style. Abraham de Bruyn’s “Omnium Pene Europae” Plate 105, 1581 in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York shows a variety of peacod belly doublets.
Arnold, Janet. Patterns of Fashion: The cut and construction of clothes for men and women c1560-1620. 1985: Macmillan, London.
Boucher, François. 20,000 Years of Fashion. 1987: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York.
Payne, Blanche. History of Costume. 1965: Harper Collins, New York.
Waugh, Norah. Cut of Men’s Clothes 1600-1900. 1964: Routledge, New York.
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This information © 2009 Kass McGann and Reconstructing History