17th c. Costuming

I have taken on a commission (actually 2) for a lovely lady in New Hampshire, who is a 17th century reenactress, and greatly in need of both a shift/shirt/smock, and a jacket.

Lucky me for two things – one is that I *just* made this jacket, the exact same jacket she is wanting.  Also, she is almost exactly my own measurements!

I’m starting with the shift.  It’s a basic shirt made of rectangular panels, with under-arm gussets, and a high collar. The interesting thing that makes it more 17th c. than Elizabethan is it has a built-in “ruff,” a floppy, pleated collar attached to the neck band.  This can be worn out over the bodices or jackets, or tucked inside the shirt and a separate ruff worn.  Crafty!

Here are some reference images for the doublet and/or shirt, from various Plimoth Plantation websites and articles (links only):

(c) Wolfgang Wander – linked to from his webpage. This
shows the falling band collar nicely.
(c) Tom Brosnahan – this is a link to his image on
(c) Wolfgang Wander – linked to from his webpage
Here’s another great example of the jacket construction, from Extreme Costuming:

I’ve also made a quick sketch of the shirt:

We’ve changed the collar to 2.5″ wide instead of 3″ wide.

The fabric will be 100% linen, from Dharma Trading Co., in white.  It needs multiple washings and some fabric softener, as it’s rather crispy now (the nature of linen), but as soon as that’s done, I’ll be on to the shirt!  This will actually be the very first time in the history of American Duchess that I have worked with 100% linen.  Don’t I feel period accurate! šŸ˜€

More and more and more to come on this project.  Also, do not be hurt, I will post updates to the Baroque gown soon, as I will be finishing it for a ball the last weekend of June.


  • American Duchess

    June 10, 2010 at 2:43 AM

    I wish I could sew as well as I draw, haha! I'm working on a straight-forward gridded pattern for the smock/shirt. It'll have a couple different options for collars and sleeves, along with instructions, drawings, and pretty photos.

  • Olympe de la Tour D'Auvergne

    June 10, 2010 at 7:02 AM

    Do you find that the prices-for-product on linen tend to be better at Dharma Trading or Fabric-store.com? I always debate which to buy from, so it's good to get other people's opinions on the matter.

  • American Duchess

    June 10, 2010 at 6:09 PM

    I have to admit I did not check Fabric-store.com. I will have a look. I did find the linen very reasonably priced at Dharma, though, compared to other sources I looked at, such as Renaissance Fabrics, and Fashion Fabrics Club, and Fabrics.com. Good quality, too, although their selection is very slim. They carry many kinds of fabrics for dying, so they are all in white. It's a great source for cotton and silk voile, though, and I am happy with the quality of linen, yes.

  • GentlewomanThief

    June 11, 2010 at 2:42 AM

    Woo – looks like an interesting project! I love her inspiration jackets, especially the last one with the lower neckline and the little strips over the tops of the sleeves? (Am sure there's some sort of correct terminology I'm ignorant of!)

    Lovely sketch for the smock, too, can't way to see the ruff in action!

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