Thoughts on patterns
Of course, there is no way we can know exactly how the german kampfrau or landsknecht clothing was made. I'm a newbie on the area and I know for certain there's some expert out there who knows a lot more than me :) I've been studying the woodcuts and images for quite a while now though, and I soon discovered that I immediately can spot possible inaccuracies in other reenactor's dresses. Such as slashing on the back of the bodice, which as far as I know only have been documented on men. It looks great though, don't misunderstand me! Just trying to make an example.
However, I think you shouldn't take the whole historical accuracy too seriously, since again, we'll never know... the camp followers were probably much more inventive and creative than we think, and watching the old images you can see that every dress looks pretty much unique. The variation in design and making was probably bigger than we'll ever know.
I didn't use a pattern at all, I don't know if that was good or bad... simply because I didn't think I could afford it at the time and I was eager to get started. Instead I did a fitting on myself, pinned on two panels of cheap fabric and marked where I would cut. Then I cut the front panel in two and sew it all together, and continued to mark where I had to sew in more, until the whole thing fitted me perfectly. Then I transferred it to the wool. It was tough but I was too anti-social at the time to ask for help, and too stubborn to give up. Or too foolish.
Anyway, it turned out good in the end but it was hell of a job for someone who had only sewn three or four dresses before. I actually recommend this way because when you do all the job yourself, without asking for help, you learn so much more. You see all the mistakes and inventive ways and things you should have done differently. It's great!
The first kampfrau and thoughts
My first kampfrau garb turned out like this:
It was made of yellow and plum wool, was completely hand sewn and the skirt is made with (only) 2,5 m rectangular panels of fabric, pleated with box pleats onto the waistline. The sleeves are removable (I doubt this is period, but necessary on hot days).
In search of references I came across some awesome websites and woodcuts. The ones I particularly used were St Maximilian Landsknecht Reenactment Guild and The Curious Frau, both have really good descriptions and woodcuts, as seen here and here. Of course, I browsed dozens and dozens more websites and images, too many to mention!
The things that need improvement that I can now see with this dress are:
- The waist is too low. Waist is always higher than you want it to be, apparantly, since the ideal then was different from now. Woodcut example
- The neckline is too high in my opinion.
- The bodice is not snug enough, or - it WAS snug and then after using it for a week or so the wool, despite being lined, stretched a bit.
- There's something I don't like with the pleating, the fullnes around the waist is really nice but the pleats fall out quickly and you can't tell at the bottom of the skirt that it is 2,5 m wide.
- Too much details, not that it's not period but for my personal taste. I will definately cut down on the slashing and the puffing on the next dress!
- The bottom yellow panel on the skirt is too thick.
The things I like, however, are:
+ The colours are beautiful.
+ It is as period as I wanted it to be. You can definately find references to it in woodcuts and paintings, no question mark regarding the look.
+ It is HAND SEWN which is ambitious indeed :)
+ It is comfortable to wear and it holds everything up, I don't need to wear a bra for an example.
+ It was a damn good first try, better than some peoples second or third tries, hehe! Ssssschhh!
That's it for now, will return with more thoughts regarding the new dress I'm planning. Cheers!
I'm Desirée, I've been a member of the SCA for almost ten months, mostly focusing on the 14th and 15th century. and in May-July 2009 I made myfirst attempt at a 16th century german kampfrau dress.
This blog exists so I can record my second attempt and other sewing projects, because I missed dress diaries myself during the first project.