Make yourself some Pumpkin Pants!
Buy our full-size paper patterns with complete instructions and historical notes for man's breeches circa 1570-1600 (aka Trunkhose or "Pumpkin Pants"). Fits waists 28"-50". All sizes included in one envelope. Embellishment suggestions included.
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wool, heavyweight silk
lightweight silk or linen for lining
4 yds at least 60" wide
5-5/8" buttons for fly 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 Breeches 1560s-1600s
In the middle of the sixteenth century, a style of breeches that theoretically began as a way for mercenary German soldiers to carry more plunder (Pluderhosen) gradually shortened. They eventually became the new fashionable style in the courts of Europe from the Holy Roman Empire to Spain. These paned breeches were often constructed from strips of elaborately decorated silk and braid gathered or pleated into a waistband and legbands. They became popular just as silk stockings came into use by those who could afford them. The shortness of the breeches exposed the maximum amount of stocking possible, thus highlighting the wearer’s wealth. They were also a showcase for fine textiles as they were constructed of strips of pinked taffeta and satin and brocade and lined with more silk. Unlike the Pluderhose, the lining did not emerge from between the panes but rather showed through demurely.
An aspect of the breeches anything but demure is the codpiece. Although they did not have the elaborate poufs and decoration of the Pluderhose codpieces, they were still slashed and decorated with braid so that they are a striking feature of this style of breeches.
Don Garzia de Medici’s burial suit of 1562 (illustrated at right), housed in the collection of the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, shows this short puffed style well. Although not bombasted with extra padding as were many breeches of this time period, this example stands out stiffly from the hips and gives the shape that leads to the eponym “Pumpkin Pants”. They point to the doublet through eyelets in a simple waistband. It is possible that the legbands also were eyeleted to hold up the silk stockings preferred with this style. However, no remnant of the legbands remain. The codpiece, much more sedate than the German versions, is decorated with braid and shows a lining through slashes. Unlike the Pluderhose, however, the lining is not pulled through these slashes. The codpiece attached at the conjunction of the crotch seam and closed the front of the breeches by use of a pair of eyelets hidden behind the round protrusion. Above the codpiece, the breeches’ waistband is held closed with eyelets.
Only fragments of Cosimo I de’Medici’s trunkhose (also in the Palazzo Pitti) survive, but one of the few extant pieces is the trim of the codpiece from which it is still possible to guess its shape. The position and structure of the codpiece seams to be similar in many ways to the previous example.
An English example of this style is held by the Grimsthrope and Drummond Castle Trust, Ltd. It shows the endpoint of this short style circa 1600. These trunkhose of mulberry silk and uncut velvet are decorated with dark purple braid in silk and metal. As was the style at the end of the century, these breeches include canions that reach down to the knees although the leg of the breeches is as short as the earlier examples. This late, the breeches do not include a codpiece at all but rather close at the center front with eyelets hidden by the volume of the garment.
These short breeches known as trunkhose can be seen in 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. An illustration after this painting can be seen at right. The paning, contrasting lining, and bulbous codpiece mimic those of Don Garzia de’Medici’s trunkhose. The fabric of the panes appears to be decorated similarly to the doublet he wears. This is a typical treatment.
An exaggerated version of the short breeches is seen in Nicholas Hillard’s “Portrait of a Young Man”, circa 1588. The trunkhose are so short as to be almost unneeded. 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 left from a Ball at the Valois Court circa 1582 by Coulery hanging in the Rennes Museum.
Throughout the first two decades of the 17th century, the size of this style of breeches varied widely but the short trunkhose persisted even among the fashionable. This can be seen in a portrait of Richard Sackville, third Earl of Dorset, painted by Isaac Oliver in 1616 and shown at right. Sackville wears a slim-fitting doublet over huge blue breeches decorated with gold crescent moons, suns and stars. The breeches only reach mid-thigh and do not appear to have canions, although the volume of the breeches could simply be covering them from our sight. One will notice that there is no codpiece visible.
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 © 2006 Kass McGann and Reconstructing History