20 October 2006

Doublet Deux

Getting back on track...

When last we left our intrepid seamstre… um, tailor, he was endeavoring to draft a new pattern (ignoring for the moment all of the side projects like the marrionette…) which took into account the shortcomings of the old, and create a new doublet to his liking that can go on to form the moderating and contrasting base for a more flamboyant jerkin which shall overlay. Are you with me now?

NOTE: Plum color for mockup purposes only.
See previous post for tips on mocking-up...

As you may recall, the color scheme here is autumnal in nature, drawing from my favorite earthtones of rust and mustard (thankfully I’m making garb and not sandwiches, but I digress). The colors were inspired by my favorite set of juggling balls, I kid you not. There’s a picture back in an earlier post if you want to take a look. We find inspiration where'er it hides. Unlike the earlier jerkin project, which incorporated a number of techniques and ideas that were new to me, I have a good deal more experience making doublets and even my past noble projects have followed simpler lines, as I generally believe in letting carefully-chosen textured fabrics speak for themselves. I think that this lends a certain nuance to costuming that helps in bringing me down on my preferred side of the dividing line between my character’s everyday clothing and a costume worn for a weekend and meant to last only that long.

TODAY'S TIP... Draw inspiration from what you've done. This includes acknowledging and mending past errors, and distilling the best bits from the last few projects to make the newest project a culmination of all you've learnt so far.

Above is a photo of me looking pompous in an early noble costume of mine. If you’ve read some of my older posts, you’ve likely seen it before in the parrot picture. I like the quilted fabric and the simple lines of the doublet. I need to dig it out and take some more detailed shots ere we discuss shoulder and waist treatments, because I was particularly fond of this one. Small ½ inch loops of match-dyed cotton are sewn into the seams of the waist and shoulders as well as around the collar with the intent of eventually forming a supportasse for a ruff I never quite got around to making.
PRO: Good use of texture, simple lines
CON: Button placket, never made ruff so the collar just came off as a little silly

Below are some shots of another doublet o’ mine that I am particularly fond of. The cotton canvas is a sage green (much faded by the suns of a dozen faires) of very much the same weight as the rust-colored stuff I used for the jerkin project. I like the heavy open-weave texture of it and the way it turns supple with time and wear. I even like the way it fades, though this doublet started out solidly middle class and has degraded somewhat with wear to a lower middle class garment. But that’s part of its charm, methinks.

PRO: Simple lines, very workmanlike and utilitarian, love the pewter buttons (difficult to see in the picture), Best fitting of all my doublets so far.
CON: Fit might belie the doublet's class somewhat, has a button placket

A SIDENOTE ON THE SUBJECT OF FITTING… I am a slender fellow. The name “Ichabod Crane” leaps to mind when I flounder about for a literary reference to describe myself. As such, I oft-times find it difficult to draft all the wrinkly bits and pudgy bits out of my doublets. This used to drive me to destraction until I started to look, and I mean really LOOK at the renaissance portraiture, especially that of senor Moroni. I have been especially inspired (as are many male costumers) by the cut of the Tailor’s doublet and the places in which Moroni recorded the folds and buckling of the fabric in the man’s pinked and slashed white doublet. Many of these ‘faults’ are the very same ones I’ve been tearing my hair out trying to correct for years. And that guy was a tailor, for heaven’s sake! Many of his other paintings bear this out, as do many other painters of the period. Many of the perfect flat front garments in Northern Renaissance paintings were clearly boned or starched when they weren’t stuffed into unrealistically taut potbellies by adding sewn-in bags of cornmeal or the like.

The doublet in the inspiration picture (derived from a painting by mannerist master Moroni) doesn’t lend us much of a clue as to the cut of the man’s doublet other than that spiffy sleeve which is either cutte or tightly paned (I've seen it duplicated both ways with some success) which I am not currently planning to replicate… at least not right away. Other than the color, it is difficult to deduce much at all about the inner garments. The hang of the outer garment suggest that the doublet would be close-cut rather than stuffed with bombast in the peas cod style, more akin to a soldier’s arming jerkin meant to be worn beneath cuirasses. The body of the doublet might not have matched the fancy sleeves and I would be remiss if I failed to point out that I can by no means be certain that there even was an inner garment between the visible Jerkin with sleeves and his shirt. So I am - by necessity - going to operate under certain assumptions.
  1. The inner garment is a separate piece from the outer jerkin.
  2. The inner garment is a close-fitted doublet of a lighter fabric than the outer and is all of a piece.
I’m not even going to dwell on whether that’s really the collar of his shirt that we see or a renaissance dickie like many of the ladies of the courts wore and called a partlet. Partlet, dickie, you say to-may-to, I say to-mah-to…yada yada yada…

We have already drafted a new pattern for the proposed inner doublet and revisited the previous projects of pertinence to the current endeavor and recapped for those just joining in. Welcome and welcome back all of you…

For the inner doublet I have chosen a lightweight brushed cotton, almost a light flannel in a wonderfully understated mustard color. The buttons will be wooden beads and the shoulder, neck and waist shall be decorated only with a pinked strip of folded bias binding in a matching color as shown in the previous jerkin around the neck and in numerous garments featured in Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion. With the help of my dear ladywife, I have (hopefully) drafted away the annoying wrinkle at the back of the neck and I will once again be using an overlap instead of a button placket for the closure.

Next... assembly.


  1. Awesome! Thanks for putting up the pics of your old doublets. I'm planning a doublet for a friend of mine who is also... rather Ichabod Crane-ish, as you so aptly put it! It's hard to find pics of guys in their doublets.

    Were button plackets simply 'not done'? I never really looked at that detail...

  2. I can't say as they "weren't done" so much as I find them aesthetically displeasing. Off the top of my head I can only think of one 16C image of a man in a doublet that displays what _might_ be a button placket, and that's of Henry, Lord Darnley. Most of the paintings I gravitate toward display a distinct lack of a placket and therefore I have been endeavouring to remove them from my design.

    That and it's just something else to do that I haven't mastered yet. A progression of sorts...