I have been using this supportive undergarment since 2013 when I was inspired by seeing this post: http://deventerburgerscap.blogspot.com/2013/04/making-my-bra-shirt-part-ii.html
I used just the bodice part up until this year when I finally added the pleated skirt, which makes it much more comfortable! I initially made it to wear under a gothic fitted gown and it is based off of my gothic fitted gown pattern. I am very happy with how comfortable it is and how many garments it works with. I used a slightly heavier, softened linen that has held up to washing very well.
I have used it under my 15th century Italian gowns and my 15th century Flemish gown. Although these gowns are supportive on their own, wearing this additional supportive layer makes a huge difference. The most noticeable difference being that the waistband helps keep my bust even-I, like many women, have slightly uneven cup sizes. Below is my Italian without the undergarment, you can see the unevenness and drooping. Next is my Flemish with the undergarment, much more even and lifted:
The most documentation I have seen for this type of garment is from German images from the 15th century: Garb Underwear Pinterest Board These are slightly different from the Lengberg find, which has more defined cups (I hope to make one of these and a German gown soon to experiment with a different silhouette). In the images you can clearly see a sleeveless garment with a pleated skirt, usually with lacing shown on the side. There is at least one image from Italy in the 14th century that show a sleeveless garment with a pleated skirt, with no lacing in the front (The birth of John the Baptist, Giusto de Menabuoi, Baptistryto the Duomo, Padua, 1376-7). The silhouette achieved is rounded and soft.
Using my Gothic Fitted Pattern, I created a short-waisted bodice that would include a waistband. The bottom of the bodice comes just below my bust line and the waistband ends above my natural waist, like an empire waist. I bag lined it to give it more strength and make the finishing go faster, so I cut out two of everything, (making two and lining them together). My hem comes to about mid calf and this seems to be a good length. It is the first layer I wear and then wear a shift or chemise over it, then my outer gown. It seems like lots of layers but it ends up being very comfortable even in the summer!
Assembly Order (see slideshow above)
- Sew front and back seams/ front and back panels together
- Sew strap seam/ front and back together at strap
- Attach waist band pieces to front and back, keeping sides open
- Repeat with lining and then Bag line together at neckline and sides, keeping bottom open
- Sew Skirt panels together, at least two panels, one front one back. Leave 5″ or so at the top for side slits.
- Pleat skirt using knife pleats (will keep it less bulky under gowns)
- Sew Skirt to Bodice at waistband, sides should be open in bodice continuing down in to skirt slits.
Mark out eyelet placement for Side Spiral Lacing
- Start 0.5″ down from top on each side
- Side A/Front
- Mark another 0.5″ from first eyelet
- Continue 1″ down for rest
- Mark another 0.5″ from last
- Side B/Back
- Mark all eyelets 1″ from each other
- Should stagger 0.5″ from Side A