Category Archives: Children’s clothes

16th C Flemish for a child

My daughter prefers to wear boys clothes and the easiest boy’s clothes for SCA purposes are breeches and a shirt. I’ve made a doublet and sleeves too, but when it gets cold, she needs more.  She needs a coat.

gorinchem coatpng_Page1.png There is an ideal coat on page 95 of  “The Tudor Child”[1].  But I haven’t seen a contemporary painting or image showing a coat like that and I can’t find such an image in the front of the book.

The coat is described as part of an outfit described as  “Gorinchem boy’s doublet, breeches and coat” and, as I was looking for sources, I realised that I didn’t have a good reason for the breeches I’ve been making since my eldest son was 4.



Here’s what I’ve found.

There are five sources listed in the The Tudor Child, and the painting shown below is from Gorinchem.  I guess that’s the reason for the name.  It fairly clearly shows the breeches and doublet. So I’m looking for a coat from the South of Holland that would have been worn by a child in about 1586 or later.

Hilleke de Roy and four of her orphans (1586)


fella 8 verso detail.jpg
Fella, folio 8 verso.  (c1592/1598)  [2]
3 of the other sources are clearly for the breeches and doublet and the last source is “Drawings in Fella, T (c1592/1598), Book of Divers Devices and Sorts of Pictures”.  There is a modern printed facsimile of this, but I also found the  images online.

This detail from one of the pictures is typical for the drawings in that source and I don’t think it’s good evidence.

Fella is from Sussex and the “coats” they’re wearing are shorter and worn with trunk hose, rather than breeches.  It feels like this is a different layer of clothing.


Detail from Children’s Games

This detail of “Children’s Games” , by Pieter Bruegel the Elder in 1560, shows children at play and includes a brown jacket (rear left) which could be similar to what I’m looking for.

Pieter Bruegel was a painter with the Antwerp guild, so the time and place are about right.  On the other hand, the child is wearing hose to above the knee, and you can’t see the bottom of the breeches I think you should be able to see if they were there.


My current conclusion;  There are some regular wearers of breeches, but not many.  I should probably look at the higher class wearers (although there’s those orphans above).  I also need to take a closer look at making Rose hose, taking into consideration that she grew 7cm in the last 6 months and is likely to continue that rate in the short term.


Stuff I need to follow up next time I do any of this;









  1. Huggett, Jane and Ninya Mikhaila, The Tudor Child Clothing and Culture 1485 to 1625, Fat Goose Press Ltd., 2013.
  2. Drawings in Fella, T (c1592/1598), Book of Divers Devices and Sorts of Pictures

Baby head coverings

I want to make a coif for a friend’s baby.  I’ll make it in that nice soft white wool I have.  But what type of coif?

Lots of pictures of babies in the Larsdatter pages – Babies bibs and aprons and Medieval Children and Children’s Clothing  and Children in the 16th Century. And a nice set of later portraits here.

The pictures show babies wearing coifs that are common to their time period, but most aren’t wearing any headwear at all.  Smaller babies are typically all wrapped up and their heads covered in the swaddling process.

I know two easy ways to make coifs;

There’s also the 3 piece coif.  This is the style I made for my daughter when she was a baby.  It stayed on pretty well because I was able to tweak the pattern to fit her head shape exactly.

there’s also this extant baby’s coif

Functionally, a coif for a baby should keep the head warm or covered from the sun, be smooth at the back so it doesn’t cause an indentation from the baby lying on it, avoid ties so you don’t strangle the baby accidentally while it is sleeping, Fit well enough that it doesn’t fall off.


Some cute, out of period pictures showing coifs

In period, no head coverings

Babywearing in the SCA

I originally wrote this in 2006 and today was prompted to move it over here.


I have been asked to give people instructions about the sling I use to carry Rose. I made it for attendance at SCA events, but now I use it all the time. It packs up small, is a useful piece of cloth to put Rose on when she needs to go on the ground, saves my arms when I want to carry her and it looks like it will still be useful when she’s 2 or 3 and can walk but refuses to walk any further.

Here are some pictures I have found of people carrying babies within SCA period (pre 1600). Please send me links for others if you find them.

From left to right:
-on the middle right, there’s someone carrying a baby on their back – 14th Century Paris
– a sling, 1501-1503 Italian
– a basket on a back – 14th Century French
– last one I don’t seem to have the web reference for but it’s painted by Giotto, which makes it 13th Century Italian
-1620, so a little out of period. Flight out of Egypt paintings seem to be a good theme to look for slings,

I guess the range of times and places suggests that the sling was a common solution to a problem everyone has if they are looking after a small person.

I also had a conversation with a Papua New Guinian woman when I was wearing Rose. She told me that she had seen many women “at home” using similar slings. They also had a string bag they used to put the baby on top of a load of firewood – I want to see one of those!

My sling

I made my sling from 2m of cotton fabric, approx 110cm wide. I used rings I bought off ebay but I’ve since made one for my sister with 65mm chrome plated steel rings I got at our leather supplies shop. You could probably get something similar from a hardware shop.

I folded it using the hot dog fold from this page, threaded the folded end through the rings, fanned it open to make a flat end and sewed it down. It ended up similar to the one at the bottom of this page. That link also has illustrations of the process of making a ring sling. I sewed one of the long edges down so I could tell the long edges apart. It makes it easier to adjust when you only need to pull one edge.

For wearing instructions I like this explanation.

I have looked at a bunch of other sites, but the site all these links came from is the best I’ve found.

Here is a photo of us using the sling:

Wardrobe audit

Tonight I audited Rose’s Festival clothes and she has the following clothes to wear at a 5 day camping event;

red flemish (cotton)
blue wool pin on sleeves
black wool partlet
black linen partlet
unfinished white linen partlet
black linen apron
green linen apron
green wool surcoat
purple/red tunic with embroidery around the neck (from celsa – was this a borrow or a hand me down?)
red wool hood that will fit until she’s bigger than me
ugly blue wool cloak

Notice the lack of underwear?  Every chemise she owns will still fit, but her arms and legs are too long for her.  The hems are at knee height and the arms at the elbow.  Actually, almost all her dresses are in the same category – fit in the body but the skirts are too short.  The only one that doesn’t “fit” has set in sleeves – I’ll avoid them in future.

I’ve done really well.  Most of the dresses I discarded tonight have been worn since at least our trip to Canterbury Faire in 2009. That’s since she was 3 and she’s now 5.

Tonight I patterned some underwear.  I guess I’ll sew that sometime between now and Festival… I’m also thinking that some more aprons and partlets could be useful, so she can just change apron and partlet each day and keep her one dress clean enough.  Otherwise, maybe she’s ready to just wear plain coloured linen/wool shifts with a belt.  I guess I could button them at the wrist so the sleeves can include growing room but not be annoying.  She could probably dress herself if I went that way…

Or maybe I could just make her another flemish in a lightweight wool with a bag lining – I made the last one in an hour, not including patterning and I made the pattern tonight too.  I just have to test and computerise it.

Tunic for a 5 year old

12/12/2013 Edit: I’m about to retire the tunics I made with this pattern.  They’ve always been a bit tight in the body and Rose is a skinny child, so maybe make the body pieces about 5cm wider, or more if you don’t have a skinny kid.


Tonight I reviewed Rose’s clothes for festival.  While she can still fit in the tunics I made for her three years ago, her arms and legs are too long for them.  I need to make new ones and I think they have to be adult style tunics, to save on fabric.

They’re loosely based on the St Louis shirt and the bocksten bog man’s kirtle. This is the pattern I use for my smocks too.

I’ll make them from the 110cm lightweight linen I have.

Here’s the cutting and sewing layout for the tunic;

I haven’t made them yet, but the pattern is based on the measurements I took tonight:

Shoulder to floor – 94cm

Waist to floor – 64cm

Chest – 57cm

Hip/bum – 64 cm

Arm length 41cm

Infant T-tunic

This is the basic tunic I put Rose in until she was about 6 months old.  Then I left out the pin tucks and made it a bit wider.

I made them in white linen and during summer that’s all she wore.  For cooler weather, she wears a woollen dress over the tunic.

Rose is still wearing the slightly wider version that I made 18months ago.  They’re just getting short.

Child's tunic in period

Here is Rose wearing the larger tunic at Festival this year.

Larger tunic
Larger tunic

And here’s the pattern

Rose’s Shoes

I made these shoes when Rose was 2 and a half, her shoe size was 7 or 8.

they’re from my bible – Shoes and Pattens, published by the Museum of London.

Here she is wearing them

Rose shoes
Rose shoes
Shoes without Rose
Shoes without Rose

And here is my pattern

A couple of notes;

I think this is the pattern I modified so that I could fit a thick sheepskin insole and I don’t think it worked very well.

There’s another pattern somewhere that fit Rose’s feet perfectly, but then couldn’t fit socks as well.

If I were making this pattern again I would use a heel stiffener.

Rose’s next pair of shoes will be ankle boots