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RH615 - Early Tudor (1500-1520s) Man's Gown & Jerkin

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Make the perfect man's gown for the Early Tudor period from 1500 through the 1520s with our pattern. 

This is the time of Henry VII (Henry Tudor), Ferdinand II of Aragon, and Maximilian I of Habsburg. This pattern includes options for common- and noblemen's gowns. Full size paper patterns for Early Tudor men's gown for wear over man's doublet and hosen (RH610).

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Below is an excerpt from the historical notes you will receive as part of this pattern:

Men’s Gowns in the beginning of the 16th century

In the final decade of the 15th century, changes were taking place all over Europe that would transform Western civilization from the Middle Ages into the Renaissance.  As usual, these changes are reflected in dress.  The clothing we see in portraiture at the turn of the 16th century gives an indication of the shape and construction of clothing in this new era.

The picture at right is from a large scene in the Roman de la Rose.  This gentleman is walking with his lady and shows us the full ensemble of the 1490s.  He wears a bright red gown lined with green plush or velvet.  The green is visible in revers at the front opening and at the tips of the extra-long sleeves and a little inside the sleeves, visible through the front seam opening.  The gown appears to be held closed only by his belt with attached pouch.

Under his gown, our gentleman wears something black on his chest.  It is possible this is a doublet of some type, but it is more likely that it is a sleeveless jerkin with attached skirts.  We know the jerking is sleeveless because his arms are covered by gold sleeves, not black as would be expected.  On his legs are grey hosen and wide-toed shoes.  He tops it off with a wide hat worn over a green cap.  If one thinks about the typical clothing of Henry VIII in the 1530s -- doublet, jerkin, and fur-lined gown -- one can see that that style of dressing had its origins in this ensemble.

Jean Bourdichon’s early 1500s manuscript painting “The Wealthy Man” shows a gentleman with his wife and children all wearing the stylish clothing of the day.  The man wears a gold brocade gown trimmed with black over a red velvet doublet or jerkin with sleeves.  His gown sleeves appear to be open from shoulder to wrist along the front seam, trimmed with the same ornamentation as the front opening of his gown.  We cannot see much more of his outfit nor determine if it has closures or if it is just folded over his lap as he sits.  But the similarities to the previous ensemble are obvious.

An ornamental brass of an English couple from the early 1500s also shows this style of gown.  The gentleman wears a pleated shirt under a high-necked garment that appears to have close sleeves.  Over this is worn a gown lined with fur that can be seen at all the edges and inside the sleeves.  The sleeves are open at the front seam but the gentleman is wearing them in the traditional way, with his hands through the wrist openings.  His hands (and his lady’s) are folded in prayer.  The gown appears to be held closed by his belt from which suspends a pouch.

A Spanish example gives us some insight into what is going on under this gentleman’s gown.  This picture of St. Julian at right is missing the gown layer.  In the original, St. Julian is holding a hawk so it may be possible that the gown layer was not worn during sportive pursuits.  Being clad in doublet and hosen alone would have been unseemly, but wearing a skirted jerkin without a gown over it was acceptable for leisure wear.

Julian’s jerkin greatly resembles the Waffenrocks popular among Landsknecht officers in the 1530s.  The body of the garment is fitted to the chest, the sleeves are large and paned to show off the under layers, and the skirts are pleated heavily.  The garment is trimmed with contrasting fabrics and reached knee length.  Underneath it are worn hosen slashed at the knee and slashed shoes, again not unlike those of the Landsknecht 20 years in the future.

In his 1519 portrait of Joris van Zelle, the artist Orley shows us the ensemble as it evolves.  Van Zelle wears a pleated shirt much like the gentleman in the ornamental brass, above.  Over his is worn a red doublet that does not open center front, a little wider on the neck than what was popular at the turn of the century.  Over this we see a back garment even lower on the chest but without sleeves.  This is clearly the jerkin.  Van Zelle’s sleeves match his doublet layer.  Over it all he wears a black gown lined with brown fur and his arms come out the slits in the fronts of the sleeves, not the wrist openings.  The long end of one of his sleeves is looped up over his left arm.  The quintessential “Henry VII hat” completes his outfit.

To conclude our study of noblemen’s clothing leading up to the time of Henry VIII, we have Orley’s 1519 portrait of Charles V.  With his pageboy haircut and crownless hat, no one could be more stereotypically early 16th century.  His heavily pleated shift is smocked with gold embroidery.  Its neckline is wide on the collar bones in keeping with the style of the times.  His doublet is similarly wide.  His gold brocade gown is lined with fur and casually falling off his shoulders.  The look is one of casual riches.  Charles wears the collar of state of the Order of the Golden Fleece around his shoulders.


Anderson, Ruth Matilda.  Hispanic Costume 1480-1530.  1979:  Hispanic Society of America, New York.

Bernis, Carmen.  Trajes y Modas en la Espanade los Reyes Catolicos.  1978:  Instituto Diego Velasquez, Madrid.

Boucher, François.  20,000 Years of Fashion.  1987:  Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York.

Hayward, Maria.  Dress at the Court of King Henry VIII.  2007:  Maney Publishing, Leeds, UK.

Mikhaila, Ninya and Jane Malcolm-Davies.  The Tudor Tailor.  2006:  BT Batsford Ltd., London. 

Nylen, Anna-Maria. "Stureskjortorna” in Lovrustkammaren, The Journal of the Royal Armoury, Stockholm, Volume IV, 1948.

Payne, Blanche.  History of Costume.  1965:  Harper Collins, New York.

Tudor and Elizabethan Portraits - http://www.elizabethan-portraits.com

The Web Gallery of Art - http://www.wga.hu

The author’s private notes from The Gallery of Costume, Manchester, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Tudor Portraits - http://www.elizabethan-portraits.com

The Web Gallery of Art - http://www.wga.hu



For more, purchase this pattern.

This information © 2009 Kass McGann and Reconstructing History


I made this pattern along with RH610 (Doublet, Shirt, and Hosen) for my 10 year old son. The end results were stunning and the patterns worked very well. I like to make costumes as historically accurate as is reasonable and the historical notes included in the RH patterns really help me make sure I get it right. I made the sleeveless jerkin and lined it with the same material I used for the doublet (RH610) and the finished look was very nice. When making the gown I would definitely recommend keeping the upper sleeves open (per the pattern illustration). The pattern instructions are easy enough to follow (I think it forgets to tell you to sew the gown back pieces together before joining to gown front; but I think most people would know to do that anyway.) I would not recommend these patterns for a beginning sewist because they do assume some knowledge of sewing technique (ie; there is not an illustrated picture with each and every tiny step); but an intermediate or advanced sewist would have no problem completing the project. I think even an advanced beginner would be fine. The historical note explaining how the garment should fit on the wearer were especially helpful as I was cutting down this pattern -- for adults -- to fit my son. A child's body shape and size are different; but the notes and instructions were enough to make sure the pattern was adapted correctly.


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