Tudor boy’s outfit

I begin with an apology, when I started this blog I swore I would post every week, even if it was just an update on what I’d done that week, and here I find I haven’t posted for a fortnight. In my defence, personal stuff had taken priority.

*Hums “Stand by your man”*

Anyway, back to the point. Over summer I’ve been trying to replace a few old worn out costumes for work, as well as making a few entirely new ones. The old costumes that had been annoying me most were the children’s Tudor ones, which were looking decidedly shabby.

Boys outfits are a big problem with the Tudor period, mainly due to the non- standard size of KS2 boys – I mean, some eleven year olds are bigger than me, it’s scary!  Therefore the outfits have to be reasonably large, especially as they get worn over a school uniform, so I persuaded Gareth that I needed to make the outfit his size – small adult being ideal for my purposes.

I used two different patterns from Janet Arnold for the high status boys outffit (there’s a low status one too, but it may be a week or two before I can get piccies of it), and I made Gareth sit still long enough for me to make a toile for the doublet and cannions.

Because this is a dressing up outfit I’m not doing it to my usual highest possible standard of authenticity, so I’m not handsewing, which always makes me feel slightly guilty. Also, I’m not using a handmade braid, but bought russia braid – russia braid is about the only machine made braid I can bring myself to use, even for something like this, anything else makes the perfectionist in me feeel a bit dizzy.

I couldn’t get Gareth to sit for the toile when I wanted to start the project, so I began with the panes for the hose. This seemed like a good place to start as I’d never machined russia braid into place before, and at least these bits were straight

As you can imagine, I got pretty good at sewing on russia braid, pretty fast!




The fabric, by the way, is a heavy linen damask with a subtle geometric pattern. It’s really more like a canvas in wieght, and to be honest I don’t think I would use this stuff for a handsewn project as it would knacker my fingers (which kind of leaves me wondering what I’m going to do with the three mettres of this I have in teal…).

Once I had all the long panes done (twenty metres of russia braid – I had to go out and buy more – good job its cheap. I made a red linen lining, shaped it, and then used that as a guide for the shorter panes, which as per Janet Arnold are sewn together at the top. Then I pleated the lot into the bottom cuff. Arnold did say the original hosen had pocket slits, but I left those out, because if I put pockets in them, little boys will inevitably put things in the pocketses, and then I will no doubt find these disgusting things at a later date. I can comfortably live my life without knowing what small boys put in thier pockets, specially after a friend of mine brought her son back from a roman fort and found human teeth in his pockets.

 the inner hose/cannions are a plain brown linen, which I had buckets of left over from another project, so I’ve been using it to line just about everything lately. These were cut fairly snug on Gareth, and shorter than the hose panes so that they will allow the outer panes to loop round gracefully.

 The padding for the hose is just synthetic wadding – its not going to show. I may well have overpadded these just a little, becuase comedy trousers are fun. However, when Gareth saw the padding he flat refused to model the “jester trousers” for my blog.





I was a little worried about joining the two legs together, due to the extreme stiffness of the linen, so I decided to insert a small band around the crotch in order to reduce the bulk of the seam. I know this isn’t entirely authentic, but it was the most practical solution here.

Once the cannions and hose were united the padding was inserted and the red lining sewn shut by hand, before making the codpiece to fit. If you ever want to see a grown man really really roll his eyes, make a codpiece, and then go to see him, giggling manically and saying, “Look! I made a squishy willy!”

Just saying.

Another compromise with the hose is that the waist is elasticated. Nine and ten year old boys aren’t really going to manage lacing a doublet and hose together, even with directions, and I dont really want to get that close to little boy’s backsides, not least because experience has taught me they tend to go off unexpectedly, and without apology, especially if the dinner ladies served baked beans for lunch.

Constructing the doublet was simple by comparison, even if the decoration was not.

 I cut the piece according to the toile taken from Gareth, and decorated them before assembly. I made the sleeves as separate entities and sewed them in by hand once the doublet was constructed


 I cheated with the shoulder wings. rather than making and decorating two separate wings, I sewed the braid to one larger piece, and then cut that to shape.

If I’d been handsewing this I would have made the buttons by hand on wooden bases, but there really wasn’t much point in putting that much work in on buttons that small boys are going to send pinging across the room on a regular basis, so I used cast pewter ones because they’re easy to replace if lost.

I was left with a problem at this point, because Gareth was still flat refusing to model for me, so I pointed out that I have been the best girlfriend in the world and he owes me, so he agreed as long as I cut his head off.

 There are no nether hose yet, as I need to make them far too big for Gareth – he has skinny legs, and these will be worn over trousers.


























 I really like this gown, even though I compromised and used recycled teddy bears instead of reall fur. I think it looks fab, and I love how heavy it is – I like to give a real flavour of every aspect of tudor clothes, and many children comment how heavy they are.

i know I have made certain compromises on this one – machine stitching, elastic and fake fur, but overall I’m quite pelased with it as it will suit it’s purpose. I’m not going to sweat over such minor things when so many museums present school parties with “authentic” tudor outfits for kids made from sparkly nylon velvet, one piece, and velcroed up the back>

 Sorry I didn’t take any making of pics for the gown, btw. It’s primarily taken from Elizabeth Friendships “Pattern cutting for men’s costume” which I’m finding far more user friendly than the tudor tailor, as it explains very well how to adapt patterns to differnt measurements.




~ by opusanglicanum on September 6, 2011.

13 Responses to “Tudor boy’s outfit”

  1. I love your blog.

  2. It seems to me perfectly reasonable to machine stitch and use – perhaps – slightly over-sturdy material, given the purpose. I can quite see why you would do without pockets, too.
    “What has he put in his pocketses?”

    • not sure its over sturdy, given that many of the fabrics the tudors used would now be counted as upholstery – that linen may well soften a little once its washed a few times(I’ll have to take the padding out of the comedy trousers for washing, but other than that one of the advantages of machine stitching is that i can cope with washing machine damage as I wont have any great emotional attachment the way i do with handsewn). It should wear very well tho, so it seemed ideal, and I love the colour.

      I dont envy the mother of small boys having to empty thier pockets for the wash – yuck!

  3. I wish that more museums would provide a real authentic clothing experience for the kids… letting them experience what it’s like to layer corsets and bum rolls and petticoats and velvet gowns and coats over each other!

    • I know – some of them are absolutely disgraceful. at least I know the saxon ones i made for kirkleatham this year are as near as can be, at least they’re real linen with proper tbalet weave

  4. Woah. You mean ladies used to hand-sew metres of russia braid for every outfit like this? No wonder clothing was so expensive back then.

    Erm… I always thought a codpiece was like a flap, but it’s really a stuffed willy? Seems a bit rude to wear it in Tudor public, and that there would be huge willys and little willys, and common folks wouldn’t be allowed to have larger stuffed willys than the king.

    • most of this kind of tailoring would have been done by men back then, and the mroe decoration, the richer you were, its all about status. this doublets quite restrained in its decoration if you look at some of the surviving examples.

      lower status codpieces were sometimes just a flap – it replaces the flies on modern trousers – but even peasants often wore a stuffed one, if you look at breugel he shows some quite pronounced ones. I have done a flap style codpiece for the lower status male outfit, but as I said it could be a few weeks before i get a pic of that outfit

  5. I have an aunt who was a professional embroiderer and did a lot lof work on historical restoration, she trained at the Wemyss school of needlework. Her small son was asked in class if he knew how old his mother was. His reply was ‘no but she must be very old as she once mended Lord Darnley’s trousers!’ My aunt’s rider to this was that they were horrible to mend as the linings were made of such stiff canvas ! So I think you are quite right about the upholstery fabrics for clothing!

    • my worst mending job ever was heavy wool horse caparisons that had been worn for sereval seasons by sweaty horses, and obviously were far too heavy for the washing machine – what made it worse was that the rip was towards the back

      i just hope for your aunts sake that lord darnley wiped thoroughly

  6. Oh my, what a cod piece! It really stands out with it’s own stripes! I realise this isn’t a very constructive comment, but LOL!

    It’s good that you have the experience of 11 year old boys, re seam comfort and buttons. (and sewer health and safety during design) *more giggles*

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