Get all the German Renaissance Accessories in one pattern!
Buy our full-size paper patterns with complete instructions and historical notes for early 16th accessories from the Holy Roman Empire including Tellerbarett ("platter hat") and Schlappe ("starfish hat") for men and women, men's coif and arming cap, linen partlet and apron, Goller (fur-lined capelet), Ledergoller (men's leather jerkin), high-neck and low-scoop shirts and shifts for men and women with smocking instructions, Strumpfen (cloth hose) with Kniebänder, Wulsthaube, Wulst and Steuchlein (German women's headdresses, and hairstyle instructions for women. Detailed instructions. Embellishment suggestions included. Historical notes. All Sizes in one envelope.
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Below is an excerpt from the historical notes you will receive as part of this pattern:
Accessories in the Holy Roman Empire
When one thinks of the Holy Roman Empire in the early 16th century, the mind conjures up pictures of huge, feather-laden hats, strange bulbous headdresses, slashing, puffing, pleating and ornate embroidery.
We are hard-pressed to find intact extant accessories from the turbulent early 16th century in Germany. However, extant pieces from the latter part of the century do exist. Through careful examination of the changes in fashion in this transitional period and scrutiny of pictorial evidence, we can use the accessories from the second half of the 16th century to teach us how accessories from the first half of the century may have been constructed.
The first extant accessory is a collection of late 16th century hosen studied by the Abegg Foundation. These hosen are part of a German outfit made by a man in the late sixteenth century so he could wear an outfit like his grandfather’s for parades. The outfit purports to be that of a Landsknecht or mercenary soldier of the early 16th century.
First, let us examine a pair of hose described in Christina Hawkins article “A Fifteenth Century Pattern for ‘Chausses’” in the journal, Costume. Hawkins’ information is based on a pair of modern nun’s stockings, the order of which was founded in the 15th century. The hose are simply constructed of a leg piece and a sole piece. The sole supports narrow appendages on either side that insert into slits at the ankle of the leg piece, thus providing for the turn of the ankle. The sole stops at the ankle slits and the rest of the hose are joined under the heel in a seam. A flat pattern of these hose can be seen at right.
Care must be taken when using a modern example of the vestigial use of a clothing item. In her article, Hawkins makes the mistake of presuming that the nun’s habit has not changed in five hundred years. This is like saying that the Tower Guards in London are wearing Elizabethan-era clothing. While they are indeed wearing clothing that resembles the clothing of that time period, the cut and construction of the modern Tower Guards’ uniforms cannot be said not to have changed. The same goes for these “chausses”.
Let us return to the 16th century German example. Although full length, the feet of the German hose resemble those order of nuns mentioned above. A half-sole with appendages inserts into slits cut at the ankle of the leg piece. The back of the hosen join under the foot. See sketch of assembled foot at left.
An article by Thomas Lüttenberg entitled “Seltene Textilien aus Kloster Alpirsbach im Nordschwarzwald” discusses several early 16th century items of men's clothing, including hose. Although they are full, joined hose, the bottoms are formed in a familiar way. Triangular gussets are inserted into slits at the ankle and a separate full sole is attached to the bottom.
Three other sets of cloth hose are discussed in the same article: one thigh-length, one ankle-length and one “loafer-style”. The thigh-length hose consist of a sole with attached side pieces that wrap up around the sides of the foot. See an illustration of these side pieces at right. Rather than attaching the sole directly to the leg, this construction provides an extra layer between the sides of the low-riding Kühmale (“cow mouth”) shoes and the foot. The triangular gussets are inserted into vertical slits in the hose leg over each ankle as in all other hose types of this period that we have seen.
The ankle-length hose consist of a sole with attached side pieces, triangular gussets inserted into vertical slits on either side of the ankle bone, and a bias-cut hose leg that stops a short way up the shin. In effect, they are simply a cut-down version of the fully joined hosen. See illustration at left.
The loafer-style hose consist of a sole with attached side pieces and a vamp that covers the foot only to the instep, creating the “loafer” effect. See illustration at right for the hose as assembled.
From the provenance of these extant items, we do not know how these short hose were worn: were they worn in conjunction with the joined hose discussed on the previous page or were they worn separately and perhaps by a different person entirely? Evidence from period woodcuts shows these shorter hose almost exclusively on women. In one woodcut, a woman carrying cooking gear in the baggage train of an army on the march wears ankle-length hose (pictured in close-up, left). In another, another campfollower, coincidentally also carrying cooking gear on her back, wears the loafer style (pictured right). This is not to imply that only cooks wore short hose. Other women of the army are also shown wearing these curious sock-like hosen.
The difference between how men and women wear their shoes is slight but obvious. Men’s shoes appear to have no ties or fastenings of any kind. It may be assumed that they fit well enough to stay on the feet. Of course their staying power may be a mistaken assumption on our part. One woodcut shows soldiers carrying a good deal of shoes from the battlefield, presumably as plunder. Were these removed from the feet of fallen soldiers? Or were they picked up on the battlefield where they fell off the feet of their owners?
Women’s shoes, on the other hand, are usually depicted with one or multiple straps or ties across the instep. Since we are primarily looking at the shoes of Landsknecht campfollowers (who so obligingly tuck up their skirts for us and show us their feet), it may be surmised that they are wearing discarded men’s shoes and must tie them on to keep them on their narrower female feet. However it is possible that the difference in men’s and women’s shoes was stylistic and not purely functional, even for the woman on campaign.
Next only to slashing, one of the hallmarks of 16th century German style is the heavily-pleated and elaborately-embroidered linen shirt. Gold-embroidered shirts were a traditional wedding gift from new brides to their husbands. And the level of embroidery and the finess of materials was heavily regulated by sumptuary laws. A survey of paintings by Dürer and Holbein show shirts laden with fine micro-pleats over which blackwork and goldwork shines.
Unfortunately no examples of these lovely early 16th century shirts have survived. However since the German style of embroidery and pleating became popular in other European countries in the 16th century, we will look at extant garments from neighbouring areas as well as later German examples.
A beautiful shirt from the mid-16th century lives at the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum under the designation “Inv.-Nr. T.4104”. It is embroidered in blue/silver and white silk thread along the ruffled cuffs and collar. There is a fair amount of cutwork or linen drawnwork on the cuffs and collar as well. Blue/silver embroidery and needlelace also adorn the front opening and the same colour insertion stitches trace every seam. The collar and cuffs are separate rectangles attached to the front and back rectangles of the shirt over an area of gathers.
An early shirt in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London is accession number T.112.72. Dating from 1540-50, it is embroidered in blue silk in cross and double running stitches with overcast edges and seams worked in knotted and buttonholed insertion stitch. Again, the collar and cuffs are separate pieces of linen attached at a gathered section of the shirt body. The collar also has a very narrow silk cord stitched to the top of the frill on the collar, making it curl like an early ruff.
The shirts worn by Svante Sture and his sons Erik and Nils were housed in an iron chest in Upsala Cathedral near their graves. They were placed there by Svante’s widow, Marta Leijonhufvud after the Sture’s murder in Upsala Castle on 24 May, 1567. Along with all the other clothing in the chest, the shirts were removed to the Historiska Museet in Stockholm in 1975 for essential conservation. They are now housed in the Royal Armoury of Sweden in Stockholm. The best preserved of these shirts is believed to have been worn by Nils, the elder of the brothers. Nils’ shirt features a separate collar and cuffs that are sewn to the shirt body over an area of exquisitely fine pleating held in place by a stem smocking stitch. Of all the examples discussed in this section, this is the only shirt with this level of pleating and obvious evidence of smocking. The others appear merely finely gathered.
The Museum of Costume in Bath houses a lovely shirt embroidered with black silk. It dates to 1585-1600. The small stand collar and cuffs are covered in blackwork and close with ties. The seams are sewn so finely that they can hardly be seen.
We are aware of no extant examples of Frauenhemden. Sixteenth century examples of women’s shirt and shifts from neighbouring countries show a very different style of garment from that which is seen in portraiture from in the Holy Roman Empire in the early to mid-16th century and therefore is not discussed here.
The above examples demonstrate rather conclusively that the heavily-pleated and self-collared shirt of the early 16th century quickly gave way to the attached collar and slightly-gathered shirt that persisted with slight variations well into the 19th century. For pre-1550s portrayals, constructing a shirt without an attached collar is advised.
Accessories in Portraiture
Men’s and Women’s Hats
The most unmistakable mark of 16th century German fashion has got to be the huge, flat, feather-bedecked hats seen on both men and women. From Landsknecht foot soldiers to noblewomen of the Saxon court, these hats are a staple of early to mid-16th century headwear.
Two general types are named in the literature: the Tellerbarett (“platter hat”) and the Schlappe (“starfish hat”), shown at right and left, respectively. No hats of these type survive to the present day, but from numerous pictorial evidence we can tell that they are of simple construction. In some cases they are nothing more than felt shaped to the head, cut and folded back on itself. Other examples show gathering where the outer material (often velvet) is pleated to fit over a base. Either construction requires snug fitting and usually pinning to a cap or coif of some kind.
Men’s Coif and Arming Cap
As mentioned above, the men’s coif was often used as a way of securing the large hat to the head as shown in the illustration from a period woodcut at right. The coif would be tied under the chin, the ties often hidden by a beard, and the hat pinned to the top crown of the coif. Coifs were often wore without hats as well. The coif became another element available for decoration and most coifs seen in the pictorial record are elaborately slashed.
Differing from coifs only in function, arming caps are simply padded coifs for use as cushioning under a soldier’s helmet. Many arming caps seen in Landsknecht woodcuts appear to have a roll worn under the cap, presumably as padding for the helm. It is not known how this was accomplished, but the padded area roughly corresponds to the slashed area around the circumference of the head as shown at left. It is possible that the slashing began to serve a purpose — a series of parallel slashes would increase the girth of the cap at that point, therefore allowing a space for extra padding to be inserted. This roll of padding corresponds perfectly to the level of the brim of a sallet, a popular helm type of this time period.
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This information © 2005 Kass McGann and Reconstructing History