- So it's been a while since I've bothered with a houppelande, but
considering we are trying to get a group started in Thailand (!) and
the Thai participants are really psyched about Western clothing and
customs, I thought I'd get back into one of my favorite outfits; after
all, anyone who knows me knows I have a penchant for large, overblown
sleeves. :) The problem is that I left my nice houppelande at home,
since Thailand is a bit hot for something as heavy as that. I'm
considering, in fact, if I want to make a "haincelin", as I've seen
the short houppelandes called.
This brings me to the question of patterns. My first houppelande was
made from Cynthia Virtue's pattern:
It came out, I admit, looking rather like that big blue houppelande
being demonstrated, and I'm generally pleased with it except for a few
First, there tends to be a bunching between the legs that is
uncomfortable and does not seem to be born out in the pictures I'm
looking at. Second, though I like her general approach that the folds
fall from shoulders (and even the inset gore in the back, to get the
round neck) I'm still leery of a few details that I'm seeing in the
pictures that I'm unsure about.
Take a look at this picture, for example:
I'm first concerned about whether it is open in the front and held
with clasps or not--I tend to believe not, as the clasps would likely
show /somewhere/ in the visual evidence, and so far, I've yet to see
it. Therefore, it would seem to me that the high collars are probably
pieced in, and the end of the black on the green houppelande (and the
end of the ermine on the orange) would actually be where the collars
end, likely having been pieced in separately. This is an assumption
based on other garments that I've seen. There may be a clasp up near
the throat, however, covered by fur, but I'm not entirely sure.
Down further, we see a slit on the orange houppelande. I've seen
similar things elsewhere:
This appears to allow movement and likely would show off the wearer's
chauses and legs. I have a problem with the CV pattern here, as I'm
not quite certain I see how the expanding quarter-circle would allow
for this kind of a drape at the hem, but perhaps I'm just not seeing
Then there is the side of the green houppelande, where there is hardly
any pleating at all. While this is not always present, it is clear in
a few other pictures I've seen:
Is that merely the manner in which it is pleated? Or is it indicative
of something else? Unfortunately, I think we all realize the problems
that arise from looking merely at the pictorial evidence, but to my
knowledge there are no surviving houppelandes--at least not men's and
in a suitable condition.
So I'm gathering opinions as I work out a pattern. Currently, I'm
going with the idea that Cynthia is basically correct about the drape.
It needs to come from the shoulder in order to work properly. It
probably needs to expand outwards, but does it need to do so in both
directions? Could it be that the centerline is straight, and then the
side slopes out, perhaps to the length of the fabric. I could add a
gore from the underarm to the hem along the sides to increase it
further, but I'm wondering if this will accomplish what I hope for.
Splitting it above the knee to further down (or just doing a shorter
haincelin) is another consideration.
Finally, there will be fabric to consider. I've been told that, if I
go through our Thai friends, we can get dyed linen for as little as 20
Baht (<$1USD) per meter. Silks are also very reasonable--I believe 4
meters of silk (about 40~45" wide) went for approx. 250 Baht, and our
friends might do better. Wool I'm not so optimistic on, as Thailand
is not really known for their sheep industry. Cotton or silk damask,
however, should be little obstacle. I'm thinking a damask for the
outer and a linen inside, maybe with some silk or faux fur around the
sleeves (I'm leaning away from the fur simply because this is Thailand
and even just decorative fur can really add to the heat of a garment).
Thoughts, comments, leads on other patterns? So far, CV's pattern is
the only one that gets the top "right" for me, but I'm still not quite
in love with the pattern and hope that by working it through with some
cheaper stuff, first, I might be able to come up with something that
looks more like what I'm seeing in the paintings.
-E. Godric Logan