My Houppelande Dreams Come True

I was recently inducted into the Order of the Laurel, part of the SCA. Luckily, I received a writ a few months ago so I had some time to make an outfit for my elevation. I've been eyeing this image of Lysbeth van Duvenvoorde (c.1430) for ages and decided this was the time!

I love, love, love, the flared cuffs on the under dress and the luxurious sleeves of the houppelande. In this post, I'm going to talk about how I made the houppelande.

Portrait of Lysbeth van Duvenvoorde, Anonymous, c. 1430, Rijks Museum.

Although Lysbeth van Duvenvoorde's portrait is dated slightly after the years of my primary concentration, the same silhouette can be seen in many places well within my area of interest (about 1390-1410).  For example:

Giovanni Boccaccio, De Claris mulieribus (f. 122r) c. 1403. 

Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des Manuscrits, Français 598.

Book of Hours (f. 19v) c. 1400-1425. British Library Harley 2952.

I kept the black and red color scheme from Lysbeth's portrait because they are my SCA heraldic colors and well…. RED! If you follow me on Instagram, I'm sure you saw my love note to this red wool when it arrived. 

I knew I wanted to make my houppelande with a fur lining, but wasn't sure how to execute the idea. I looked around at many real fur and faux fur options. I ultimately decided on a super soft white faux fur from, to save both time and my wallet. It is designed to look like mink and had lines to somewhat mimic pelts. I had not worked with faux fur before and even though I read some articles about how best to proceed…. I was still a little surprised at how it got EVERYWHERE. Yeah, it makes a mess. Shout-out to all the wonderful people who spent time with a lint roller to make this look amazing the day of the event!

I used my technique that I describe here for this outfit, just longer with a different sleeve treatment. The body is basically a bunch of right triangles (as many as needed for the desired fullness) sewn together with the straight edge paired with the angled edge. This provides support and helps the fabric keep its shape.  Aside from the fur lining, the most difficult part of this section was hand stitching the seams down where the lining meets the outer layer. The thickness of all the layers forced me to use a stab stitch and it took some patience to maneuver everything, especially near the center of the seams.

I pieced the sleeves in 3 sections. Piecing allowed me to get the fullness that I wanted combined with the most economical use of fabric. I debated back and forth about whether to dag the edges. I decided I liked the look of the straight edge….for now. I can always dag them later.

I've had this idea in my mind of a houppelande being a garment that is slipped on over the head with some buttons at the neck - until I found the portrait of Lysbeth van Duvenvoorde. Looking closely, it is open at the front with some ties at intervals down the front to hold it closed. It seems obvious to me now, but it blew my mind when I first saw them! Why hadn't I considered that?! And after piecing all the sections together, I can see why this is the best way to wear it. This garment is HEAVY, weighing in at 14.4 lbs! There is no way I want to put this on over my head.

I added a collar and some buttons (fabric ones for now. I'm hoping to find perfect metal buttons someday to increase the bling factor).

I'm wearing a hood in this shot so the collar and upper body are obscured. 

Here's another shot without the hood showing the collar and upper body.

This is a very comfortable, very warm garment. I wore it inside, but only for a few hours - definitely made for cool weather.

This might be my favorite piece, currently. I'm very happy with how it turned out. The only issue I've had when wearing it is the shoulder seam has a tendency to slip toward the back. I'm thinking this might be from the weight of the garment and how I had it belted. Something to work on the next time!