Giubbone di Seda – Taglio (Silk Doublet – Cutting)

Cutting out the various layers which are involved in the fitted garments of the late 16th century requires care and understanding. This particular doublet (Moroni, 1560) is visibly of silk and likely has a silk lining as well, though linen was also possible. The silks had brilliant shine and lovely body but they were not thick. The shape of the garment was created through interlinings and especially via padstitching of those interlinings.

I typically interline with a medium weight linen, wool felt, and tela saldata, which is a coarse linen treated with hide glue to make a stiff buckram layer. This treatment is common in Eleonora di Toledo’s guardaroba and creates a very structured line to the garment which is quite stiff. Upon analyzing the Moroni painting it is clear that this doublet is not stiff. Wrinkling is clearly present and the fabric has an ease to it. As the depiction of fabric was a particular interest and gift of Moroni’s, I tend to believe he has tried his best to be accurate here. For this reason, I sought the interlinings common in garments which resembled the fit in the Moroni which brought me to Sir Rowland Cotton’s 1618 extant silk suit. It is analyzed in detail in Braun and details the use of coarse linen, wool twill (I used a wool twill serge), and three layers of silk. Two layers of silk are interlined as the top layer and the whole packet is lined in silk as well. I borrowed liberally from the construction notes in this book though my pattern does not match this doublet exactly.

The innermost layers linen and wool twill were cut first. The wool twill forms the stomach pad, the shoulders, back, collar, and sides. This will be basted in place and pad stitched from the opposite side. Note this is a different technique that what is taught in modern sewing. It is a hypothesis of the curators of the extant suit project based on shaping and this seemed a good opportunity to try the technique and see how it compares to my usual methodology. A note on the wool serge. This serge is a 2/2 twill but I preferred it to a more traditional twill because of how raw the wool is. Pre-washing and pressing bathed my apartment in the unmistakable odor of barnyard. This very natural element is often missing from modern twill and I wanted it to be part of my process.

The silk outer layers brought a new possibility. I considered investing in the double layer of silk and slashing the red silk to expose the contrasting gold silk but, I am not yet convinced that I won’t return to this doublet to embroider it with metalwork when time allows. As goldwork on this scale would take a month by itself it isn’t feasible for this challenge. For that reason, I am interlining with medium weight linen instead. Interlining silk with linen was quite common in the late-16th century and is probably the most common interlining in Eleonora di Toledo’s guardaroba.

So with the materials and layers decided, all that is left is to cut and begin. Cutting the silk with economy is the most important nod to the 16th century. I always go back and forth on whether to cut the silk down to 22″ as evidenced in Spanish pattern books. the extant doublets are not pieced so they would have been cut from final 24″ lengths (not folded) or from the 54″ looms that were in frequent use in Florence as evidenced in extant lengths of damask and brocade. As either would allow for a single cut of the doublet fronts and backs, I am using my 54″ silk taffeta as is rather than creating an artificial sense of historical appropriateness by cutting to the wefts in the Freyle manual. I still endeavor to waste the least amount of fabric possible as I place the patterns and am cutting on the fold as the manual does.

In no time at all the layers (red taffeta, white medium white linen, coarse linen with wool serge interlining, and gold dupioni as the inner lining) are cut and I can move to assembly. Lastly I gathered all of the scraps and cut the doublet skirt. The skirt will include all but the wool layer. The eyelet band will also come out of scraps and be attached last. As this can be pieced, I will not prepare it in advance.

Ciao, Fiore

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