Zimarra Marinaia (Sailor’s Coat)

My dear, long suffering spouse hasn’t had a new piece of garb for a very long time. In my defense, he is perfectly capable of making his own clothing. He is a little spoiled from wearing hand-sewn shirts and wistful as he watches me produce dress, after dress for myself. So he is due and to begin I am making him a coat.

His old cloak was irreparably torn in a freak stage accident during a production of Die Fledermaus (this might have been my fault) so I owed him, I suppose.

The target is a fisherman’s coat such as depicted in the illustration above from The Armada Campaign 1588.  The illustration was based on another — the cover art from The Mariner’s Mirrour of 1588 (also pictured).

While the illustrations are tragically unclear about seams, the shape of the coat resembles a style readily available through much of Europe at this time.  As it was not uncommon for a sailor to have second or third hand apparel, especially in something as long-lived as an outer coat, I disregarded the nebulous fit example from the illustration in favor of the known proportions of a pattern book.

I patterned after the Ropa Española Para Levantar in Alcega’s manual as it had the proportions and shape I wanted to attain.  I created and used bara tapes for my Lord based on Alcega’s instructions to maintain the integrity of the pattern. 

The material is Navy blue wool with a faux shearling lining.  The materials were chosen to evoke the original illustration but in colors that suited both the available materials and my Lord’s preferences.  The interlining was created using cotton canvas pad-stitched to wool felt.  (Said interlining is being removed as my Lord prefers the fit without the interlining and this project is not being submitted as historically accurate). Frithuric also requested closures which were not in the original illustration. I made the buttons from yellow silk thread woven onto wooden balls and loops made of lucet cord of the same yellow silk.

The coat is completely hand sewn using coarse linen thread.  


Alcega, Juan de.  Libro de Geometria Pratica, y Traca. Madrid: Guillermo Drouy, 1589.  p. 46.

Gnagy, Matthew.  The Modern Maker Pattern Volume 2: Pattern Manual 1580 – 1640.  New York: Matthew Gngay 2018.

Tincey, John and Richard Hook.  The Armada Campaign 1588. Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 1988.  Illustration I-1 & pg 60.

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