We’re moving! A new co-author!

It’s been a bit quiet around here in Clothing the Low Countries land. There was a good reason, I didn’t just forget about you all. The answer is a brand new self-hosted site:


This site had outgrown the options that the free wordpress.com plan allowed, and my partner has his own web-hosting business, so we are literally self-hosting. My admin is sitting a room away as I type.

All the content from this site has been moved over, including comments. So in order to update any links, just remove ‘wordpress’ from the URL and it should work. Simples!

New author

Also I’m so excited to announce I’ve got a co-author! Margaret George, my fellow huik and starched Dutch headwear enthusiast. Check out our new banner image, so many huiks!

Margaret focuses on the latter half of the 16th century, and has done some work on the Flemish market woman style. Thus our site is now truly covering the renaissance, not just 50 years of it, as well as some of the more recognisable styles that most of you think of when considering Low Countries clothing.

Margaret’s first post: Introductions is now up, so pop-over and have a read. She’s also put together an entire gallery of her Low Countries clothing projects – so many amazing ruffs!

New menu set-up

The menus on this site needed a good re-think. So now you can find all the key content under clear titles: Styles, Make, Research, Teach.

Styles will be the future home of definitive overview articles on clothing styles from the Low Countries

Make contains the galleries of our projects

Research contains either research papers we’ve written (such as the overview of huiks or hovetcleets), as well as other relevant research we come across

Teach houses the various classes we’ve both run on the clothing of this era. Currently it has some of Margaret’s collegia handouts, but we expect to fill this out over time.

To fit this layout some of the former content has come down while we review it.

Moving over

If you are subscribed to this site via wordpress, then I can move your subscription over. I’ll be doing that later this week, so if you don’t want your subscription moved over, then it’s time to un-subscribe from this site.

If you have us on an RSS feed, then navigate over to http://dutchrenaissanceclothing.com and add us to your favourite feed reader.

I’m so excited about the new content that I know we have in the pipeline, so I do hope you choose to keep following the site.


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One year after peerage – whereto from here?

This morning facebook kindly reminded me that it is my anniversary of joining the Order of the Laurel in Lochac, which has led to an impetus to communicate some thoughts swirling around in my head for a while – “what’s been happening” and “what now?” and “whereto for this site?”.

These thoughts also coincide with the various posts around the costume blogosphere on the myth of perfection and choices around online privacy. Jen Thompson’s post alluding to not posting as much because of life struck a chord. Not that my life has been sad for the past year, more that it’s been a year of re-grouping on the historical craft front, and serious increase of career opportunity, which has led to a reduction in feeling like I had a space to discuss my thoughts as they were not specifically on-topic for this blog, or in the case of more academic explorations, would not live up to my vision of where I’d like them to be.

So, then, in order:

What’s been happening?

In March last year I got a new role with the Department I work for, and it’s been amazing! A return to the job I want rather than the job that pays the bills and is OK. This means that the creative energy and project management energy that found an outlet through SCA activities has been absorbed into this space instead. I come home and don’t want to write costume plans, or send admin emails, or organise large costume sew-a-longs for my Barony, since my new job involves wrangling people across my branch into doing things that are part of their job, but not the primary focus of their job.

At the same time I’ve been deepening my understanding of research that impacts on the topic of this blog. Reading through editions of Medieval Textiles and Clothing journal, reading articles on the Northern Renaissance trying to understand its beginnings and boundaries, it’s uniqueness and it’s overlap with the Italian Renaissance. I’ve been reading about the life of Margaret of Austria, and some of the other powerful women in Europe at this time. There are a lot of them, they’re just not English so we English speakers don’t hear about them as much.

I’ve been learning to read French (and a bit of Dutch). I was learning both concurrently, but even my brain decided that was too many new symbols to be learning at the same time, and most of the primary documents I will want to read in the near future will be in French – as that was the language of the Burgundian and Netherlandish Hapsburg court, and I want to look at French scholarship around that court. Dutch can wait until next year.

I’ve gained three apprentices, and I’m really, really enjoying being their friend and mentor. They’re all very different and wonderful in different ways. Kim makes tasty historical food and blogs about it at Turnspit and Table, as past of the Historical Cook Fortnightly, as well as being a good seamstress. Safiya is the A&S officer for her College, and finding her feet in terms of A&S but is deeply interested in Persian clothing (whole new research area! Yay!), and Anna (the College’s previous A&S officer) joined us two weeks ago and is going gangbusters on German Women’s clothing of the same period that this blog covers, with a goal to have a complete outfit or two for Pennsic.

I’ve been focussing on my health. At the end of last year I was sick one week in four for about four months, which was unpleasant, and in general my fitness had suffered for my art. I’m now doing pilates two nights a week in an effort to get my strength back up to the point that running seems like an achievable thing again. Pilates has been AMAZING, and I encourage anyone with a sedentary hobby and job to invest in a good class to counteract the hours sitting and stitching.

I’ve also been focussing on our home and ways it can work better for us. We’ve now been in that place for 4 years, when the original plan was 2 years only, and I can’t see us moving for at least another 2. This means there are a variety of rooms that need to be re-arranged, things to be thrown out or re-organised, such as my crafting space and fabric stash. Most of it is now in boxes sorted by type, rather than in odd piles where-ever there was room. My craft table still needs a bunch of work though, so it’s actually useful.

I’ve set up a new crafting circle, as the one that I was part of during my formative years in costuming is now no longer able to meet on a regular basis. On reflection I realised how valuable this had been to me and to refinement of my skills and I want to be able to offer this to my apprentices. Since there’s no space in my apartment for more than two people to craft at the same time, I’ve joined forces with the Company of the Staple, who do amazing research and reproduction of the late 1370s,  for regular sharing of knowledge, skills and pizza. This should accelerate the production back up to 2012 levels.

What now?

Men’s clothing. My kit is (mostly) up to scratch, but my partner’s could do with some work (I’ve previously written about his excellent woolen shorts). I’ve got a 1520s suit cut out, with a goal to have it completed for an event in July.

Better accessories for me. Shoes, purses, hose, smocks etc. I’ve got enough gowns and hats, but could improve these aspects of my kit.

A 14th century outfit for each of us. I might occasionally want to play with the aforesaid Company of the Staple (because they have the magic combo of being excellent people who make amazing food) and as they are a living history group then an outfit up to their standards by September is one of my goals. Both for me and my partner.

Costume goals notwithstanding, the answer to “what now?” is to continue to re-balance my life, continue to revel in the new career direction and continue to return to being fit. It’s been really interesting and useful to pull back, re-assess and re-balance after a couple of years of intense immersion in this hobby.

Whereto for this site?

This has been tossing around in my head for a while. I feel like the site’s at a cross-roads.

It could continue to be the place where I document my costume projects, but I suspect they’re going to be less frequent and start to be not quite as specific to the Low Countries in 1480-1530.

It could become a definitive resource site for Renaissance Clothing in the Low Countries, but that would take a lot of work and who am I to claim that role as a non-native, historically trained but not professional historian? I set that goal for the site at the end of 2014, but then work became more involved than it had been for a number of years.

It could become a hub for various Low Countries costumers across the internet, but first I’d have to find them and do a bit of work on engagement and collaboration (which is pretty much what my day job is all about).

In the end it will probably morph into a balance of all three.

Some decisions have been made, for instance sometime in June/July this site will get a dedicated URL and move off the wordpress.com platform, so that we can do some interesting things with it. I’ll be introducing some new aspects to the range of topics covered by the blog which I hope will be interesting and start it on the path to fulfilling the second and third options.

Which leads me to: what would you like to see on this site? What do you value the most? What gaps do you wish it could fill in your interest or knowledge? Any thoughts greatly appreciated.

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An overview of Charles V and the HRE

I firmly believe that if you want to understanding the clothing people wore in a particular time and place, then you have to understand the cultural milieu in which that clothing was worn. For the past year or so I’ve been spending a lot of time reading up on the material culture of the Low Countries and Western Europe in general at the turn of the 16th century, I’ve also been delving into the politics and dynasticism of the rulers of the Low Countries at this time – the Hapsburgs.

Recently one of my favourite YouTube channels, Crash Course, released a 10 min video covering the reign of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, on the nature of his empire, his rule and some of the troubles he had in governing such a large territory. As with all Crash Course videos I highly recommend it.

There’s also a video on the Spanish Empire, Silver and Runaway Inflation and one on The Renaissance, Was it a Thing? which is a question I’m grappling with right now.

Finally, a costuming related question: check out the painting at 5:46 and help me identify it, as I’m intrigued by the hairstyle of the woman in the foreground. Is it an actual painting from the time, or a Victorian romantic nostalgia piece?

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Filed under The Hapsburg-Burgundian Court

That old chestnut…

I’m sure there’s some golden rule of craft blogging – the moment you write a long “I’m going to do all these things!” post then somehow life conspires to ensure doesn’t happen and the blog goes quiet. So, ummm, yeah…

In short: winter happened. August in Sydney was mostly grey and rainy and cold, which often means that I go into hibernation, and we also had a bunch of social commitments on back-to-back weekends that meant that the extensive prepping that’s required to kick off my bigger sewing projects didn’t happen. And then I got sick for 2 weeks – a horrible, I just want to sleep exhaustion, which I’m still shrugging off. Again, not so conducive to the planned projects.

So, here’s some in-progress pics of a couple of things I did work on:

1. A shoe

My first ever shoe – still to be turned

I started on my first ever pair of handmade shoes, blithely insisting that it would only take a weekend… to the amusement of an experienced shoe making friend.

The picture above is the finished left foot, still to be turned. I’m 2/3 of the way through the right foot, although it’s not been touched since mid August. Maybe this weekend…

Then the plan is to get some pattens made, and have a late “Great Outdoors” HSF 14 challenge entry.

2. A woven napkin

One of the events we attended in August offered a 2 hour “weave your own napkin” workshop. It was very therapeutic, and I’m really happy with the results. It still needs to have its edges finished and then to be fulled in warm water. Task for October methinks. Certainly before Fields of Gold (the next major event we’re going to)

First ever non-tablet-woven item, with beginnings of first ever piece of German brick stitch embroidery

3. A piece of German brick stitch embroidery

I’ve been wanting to try this embroidery style for YEARS, but never had the chance. At the same event that the weaving workshop occurred I offered to run a “let’s work out how to do this stitch together” workshop, which was great fun, and meant I actually started. You can see the beginnings of it in the above photo.

I turned up with a kit for participants worth $15, including even weave linen fabric and 3 packets of silk thread, and some patterns printed from and then we started, helping each other through assumptions, techniques and trouble shooting. This style is not very appropriate for 1500s Low Countries gear, so will probably be gifted to someone.

4. Re-making a kirtle


This needs to be remade…

In 2012 I made a 1480s style kirtle out of some gorgeous gold linen, and apart from that obligatory magical first yay it’s finished! wearing I’ve never been entirely happy with it.

The sleeve head is too large for the armscrye, I’m a bit over the train which needs to be tucked up (part of the design), I want a couple of contrasting colours in there, the back is pleated in a weird way with a longer that necessary back waist seam, I boned the front edge incorrectly and the lining doesn’t work for me. But I love the linen and the cut through the bodice and I think it’s salvageable. So I pulled it apart. Entirely.

I’ve since purchased a burnt orange lining fabric, and a fawn coloured brocade to create a deep edge on the hem, and as soon as I have time to lay it out then it will be cut out, sewn back up again and become the late entry for the Yellow HSF 14 challenge. And a dress that I can love again.

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