1570s Italian Kirtle and Maternity Wear

IMG_3557Because I cannot remember if I posted any pictures… here are a few of my 1570s Italian kirtle that I made to match J’s black & red Tudor garb.

The kirtle was made from 7 yards of red linen, with the trim and the apron also being made of linen. My shirt is muslin, and the same one I’ve been wearing for the last year.

I made this kirtle this winter, pre-pregnancy. In the 16th century, there wasn’t such a thing as specific “maternity wear” as we know it. So what did women do, especially merchant-class women who weren’t wealthy enough to go into seclusion for nine months?

IMG_3562Just loosen the laces, folks. (21.5 weeks along in this photo, by the way.)

One thing I’ve noticed in my research is that wealthy women seemed to prefer kirtles that laced up the sides or the back — probably because they could afford “wet nurses” to care for their infant children. It was highly unlikely, and even rather disapproved of, that a noblewoman would dare to nurse her own child.

But peasant class and even the wealthier merchant class women tended to dress more for practicality, and front-laced kirtles were more common. In addition, wealthier women could afford ladies’ maids to assist in dressing them — laces didn’t need to be located in the front.

Though there are a few things I would like to do differently on the next kirtle I make (such as arranging the holes correcty for spiral lacing and doing a better job fitting the bodice), overall I am pleased with the result.

IMG_3560

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2 comments on “1570s Italian Kirtle and Maternity Wear

  1. teeny says:

    you look like you would have been comfortable in that era .

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