Velutto (Velvet)

To be clear, I never intended to attempt to weave anything more complicated than a basic inkle-woven trim. Still, I decided to enter a competition for fun.

This competition is novel. One month, one set of clothes from the skin out with any accessories you can get to. I am building a 1560s suit of clothes for my husband including a doublet and trunk hose such as these:

This particular suit of clothes has an interesting trim. It appears to be a long-pile silk velvet. In fact, if you see this painting in person, the pile is rich enough to evoke fur. Which is how I ended up considering how one would weave velvet. I will add that I have enabling friends who gave me enough information to convince me to try.

This is also how I ended up warping a 50 thread, 25 heddle experiment on my little ankle loom and ordering a box of coffee stirrers. I admit to looking at this little project with an unreasonable amount of fear. Still, I try not to be scared of fiber so there was nothing for it. I decided to jump in and see. That is where the comedy started. As it turns out if you don’t know exactly what you are doing when slicing through lengths you might just slice off your entire warp. This was the ugly “velvet” I made.

Needless to say, this neither looks like it should nor will it function. So back to the experimental archeology. If I can’t weave velvet what prevents me from weaving a long-pile edge? So I experimented (quite successfully) with making fringe which I could cut. Once I had proof of concept, I tried a thicker silk to see if I could create pile. This was the result.

This would definitely work and apparently I was onto something. There are pictures of extant trim from a similar doublet in 17th Century Men’s Dress Patterns by Susan North et al with trim woven similarly. My copy is enroute so I don’t have a better image yet but, I do have support for my woven option.

Now that this issue is solved, it is time to plan the rest of the project. The items are:

  • Una camicia di lino con ricamo bianco (Shirt with embroidery)
  • Calzoni di lino (Linen underpants)
  • Fazzoletto di lino (Linen handkerchief)
  • Giubbone di Seda (Silk Doublet)
  • Calzone Tedesco (Trunkhose)
  • Cinta di pelle (Leather belt)
  • Cinte da Gamba (Garters)
  • Calze di lana (Wool knit hose)
  • Capello Tedesco (German-style hat)

Undergarments can be made now but the main parts of the suit launch on February 27, 2021.


Arnold, Janet.  Patterns of Fashion:  The cut and construction of clothes for men and women c1560-1620.

Braun, Melanie and Luca Costigliolo, Susan North, Claire Thorton, Jenny Tiramani. 17th Century Men’s Dress Patterns 1600-1630. Victoria and Albert Museum, London 2016.

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