Sunday, May 1, 2011

Is it period Garb? Purple houppelande/burgundian

This is the last of the blogs I have copied from my profile at Although I may repost some other blogs there as well.

So this is my latest creation. It is a purple houppelande trimed and lined in "fur". The purple is a synthetic velvetine, and the fur is fake mink, which I am assuming is acrylic. This thing is very heavy, and very warm. This houpe does have a waist seam, like my perivious houpe (due to the amount of fabric I had to work with and lack of $$$ to purchase more), which is hidden by the belt. The font opens to a little lower than my natural waist. Much of the lining on the inside is both black and brown of the fake mink. The front of the gown trails on the floor about 4 inches, and the back is about 18in. If it was not for the angel sleeves this dress would be very simular in apearance to a Burdundian gown. The gown is hand sewn, except for the trim on the sleeves (which is actually a shorter "fur" of a simular pattern to the rest since I ran out of the other. I was told it looked like I shaved the fur, so as to make it easier to be kept clean) since the fabric was too heavy for my sewing machine to handle, it took me several months to complete.

The belt is a wide stiff woven material (synthetic) which is fastened with 2 metal D rings. The headdress is a stuffed rolled hat. The rolled part is some srap fabric, stuffed with batting from an old blanket. Then it was was covered in a white satin (rayon/cotton blend) then I glued a few "gems" onto the front and wrapped some spare ribbons around it. The hand crocheted snood was a gift which I lined with the same satin on the rolled had, which was threaded with a satin ribbon to tighten it. The veil is a semi-sheer poly/cotton blend, which at this moment has raw edges. The green underdress will be discussed in another blog post.

This dress was very time consuming, I had tried to use my machine on the garment, but after breaking 3 heavy duty needles on the first seam I gave it up and took out my hand needles. I wish It was possible for me to obtain more fabric to make a true rotated point circle houpe with full sleeves, but alas funds do not permit it. So I worked this out of 4 1/2 yards of the purple and 5 yards of the fur, of fabric I recieved for next to nothing. (In fact the head gear and belt cost more than the stack of fabrics I recieved) I am very happy with how this dress turned out, other than the lack of fabric.

The head gear took some work. At first I tried to just stuff the satin, but the stuffing was way to lumpy in the thin satin, so I ended up makeing a second tube a bit smaller than the satin with a few layeres of scrap cotton/poly blend fabric I had. The second problen I had was tring to get the satin to lay flat on the roll without puckering, so instead I just left it a bit wider and longer and purposly let it wrinkle. Because I was not entirely happy with the hat, everything is not sewn, just pined even the ribbons, so that I can redo it at a later point. The hair bag under the snood I did not have time to finish the seams or hem, so by the end of the event I had little threads peeping out of my snood. So I have to take the snood off and finish the seams.

If I could do it over I make sure I had enough fabric for all the trim, so I wont have to scramble a few days before an event to find matching trim. Also I would like more fabric, but I am proud of what I was able to do with what I had. Also I would take more time to completly finish my headgear.

Is it period? Well the fabrics are all synthetic, but they mimic period fabrics in texture and weight. My dress does not have the large amount of fabric and pleats above the belt and leading to the shoulders that the houpes always seem to have in period art, but many of the burdundian gowns seam to have tight fitting bodices as my dress has. The sleeves are pieced, The waist seam is not period for my persona in brittany, but there are images in which there is a waist seam, tight bodice, and large flowing sleeves, but it just may be a GFD. Edited to say I have found gown very simular to mine here #2 on the page has sleeves very simular to mine.... So I would say this gown is more of burgundian style than a houpe.
This dress is a melding of both styles. The suffed hat is period in style, although all sourses I have found were very smooth. They were often worn with cauls and were often angled up on the sides of the heads, being supported by wire frames containing the hair on the sides of the face. Which I tried to mimic with the snood lined with the satin. (crocheted snoods are not period eithier, although netting is.)


  1. I have nine yards of good velvet that I've been sitting on for some ten or eleven years now, always with the intention of turning it into a houppelande. I borrowed one once for a 12th Night revel and fell in love. Is nine yards enough for a houpe? (I'm 5'9" and full-figured - size 18-20.) I've got embossed satin in various jewel tones - cranberry, cobalt and emerald - which I could possibly use for a kirtle and embellishments, I think.
    What is the difference between Burgundian and houppelande? My persona is late-period southern French, so Burgundian is probably more accurate a style.

  2. Okay to start for some reason It won't reconize me when I post comments on my own blog. Must be a weird glitch.

    First off keep in mind I am no expert.

    The houppelande is a very loose gown. It gets it's shape from the pleats and the belt. Cynthia has some great info on houpes on her page
    Her lovely extravagant green houpe took 15 yds of 60" fabric.

    The Burgundian gown is very fitted and uses much less fabric, emphasizing tall and narrow. It is constructed like a loosely fitted kirtle. Here is a great referance

    A good site for comparison of both gowns is located at-

    I would say that for a true houpe, (but now where as extravagant as Cynthia's) 9 yards of fabric would not quite be enough. You might be able to make it work if you have very wide guards on the dress, or very little fullness. A modified houpe experiment can also be found here

    A Burgundian gown on the other hand uses less fabric and often, but not always has tighter fitting sleeves. I would say that nine yards might be doable with a modest train and fullness as long as the fabric is at least 45" wide. Because of your height you would not be able to get away with using the selvages of the fabric at your shoulder and hem. (although many say that it affects how a garment drapes, I think it still achieves the effect I want while saving $$) It would take careful cutting.

    If you want to send me and email, I might be able to devise a layout pattern. I would need some more specific measurements, and the width of the fabric.

    On a side note~ If you really can't find anything at all to do with the fabric I would gladly take it off your hands for you. I am sure I could find something to do with it. =) Just kidding. (well sort of)

    Anyways good luck!