1630 Satin Gown in Bolsover


Can you do posh 1630  for a photoshoot  in Bolsover Castle? For next week? A friend asked… well,  I have quite a lot of kit, but my 1630 and 40 is middle upper class – but since I could get a few days free for making a new gown, and indeed I already had all the fabrics to make a stock 1630 frock, the answer was yes… The shoot was for English Heritage magazine, advertising masque event happening in Bolsover in July.

Since I had just a few days to play around with the frock, I decided to go for the styles I was familiar with – but also  use  techniques and information from a recently bought book –  Seventeenth Century Women’s  Dress Patterns ( fantastic book,  and volume 2 is just as good as volume 1, invaluable resource). I decided to base my bodice on the  slashed Ivory satin bodice ( p.70) but to go for tabs instead for peplum – in the styles of  a few of Maria Henrietta’s outfits. ( the inspiration board here)

Bodice, though based on a relatively uncomplicated pattern was tricky due to the amount of layers…


Bodice foundation in linen and linen canvas. there are 2- 3 layers in places, and they are boned with reed


bodice put together, boned and lower edge bound


the inside showing the layers

Once the foundation was ready, the bodice was covered with satin. It was time to  prepare the tabs, wings and lacing strips…


tabs – silk satin, decorated with silver metallic lace


lacing strips, 2 layers of linen, v=covered with silk, handworked eyelets


preparing the wings – they are boned with reed too

Tabs attached


time to place the wings on….


It was time for the sleeves next – the sleeves were made separately in silk satin, lined with white slilk, with the head partially cartidge pleated. they were sewn into the armholes using a string silk thread.


The skirts were very simple –  shaped panels were cut, sewn,  decorated and lined – the skirt was then cartridge pleated to the waistband



the last corrections and the stomacher could be made, and lace attached


On the day the dress was worn over a chemise, 2 petticoats ( a silk and a wool one – it was a bit nippy!) and a bumroll. The bodice was very comfortable, keeping all the things in and I was able to stay in it for about 6 hours including some stately dancing:-)

Very pleased with it – This particular gown has already been sold on to another dancing lady, but I do need one of my own – and I have an eye on a nice Olive satin – gold lace already purchased….

The results on the day:






and the spread in the English Heritage members magazine….



Silks – James Hare

metallic lace – Barnett and Lawson

reed for boning- Vena Cava Design

lace – Tudor Tailor

dodgy wig – Ebay…

clothes  the frock and the gentleman’s outfit – Prior Attire, naturally  ( and though the dress is now gone, we still have a bumrolls  available from my online shop 🙂

photography – Pitcheresque Imagery ( minus the photos as a couple – the local tog offered to snap them for us!)

Cost – fabrics  – about £300, not counting the linen; lace – about £60,  labour – £300.


16 thoughts on “1630 Satin Gown in Bolsover

  1. Hello I love looking at your emails down here in NZ im a keen side saddle rider and know that you are too! Have been asked to ride s/s for next ANZAC day in WWI Fany womans army first aid corps uniform .Have a picture from Army museum London and hope a friend may sew it up for me.But do you have any pattern or even the jacket you may have made for yourself to sell. We have only the picture from an early photo to go by. Beautifull uniform its like a Hussards jacket Red with white straps across front and nipped into waist. Any help gratefully received…I admire your costume making talents you make it look so easy but not so for fumble fingers me!! kind regards Hazel Squires Date: Thu, 2 Oct 2014 20:13:35 +0000 To: skp31@hotmail.com

    • Hello there and thank you for your kind comment! your project sounds fantastic – but since I do not specialize in modern uniforms, I have no idea where to get a pattern from, or if indeed there are patterns around! Usually I draft my own based on the extant items, generic forms and paintings, but military fashions of the 20th century are completely alien to me – sorry! 😦

  2. Your gown is lovely!

    I’m making a gown after the same pattern right now- those books are wonderful! I used my 18th century stays to draft the pattern for this gown, which worked very well. I’m in the process of attaching the sleeves, but have worn the bodice around the house and find it rather comfortable, no restriction of the waist and lots of room to move the arms.

  3. That is so beautiful! And I love the colour of the silk with the silver lace. Have you ever read Fashion and Fiction by Aileen Ribeiro? It’s all about fashion in Stuart England and has loads of gorgeous pictures and is totally fascinating. Love your blog:-)

  4. Hi there – such a lovely dress! I’m writing a short story at the moment set in 1631, and I’ve been scouring the internet to figure out how a dress of this era works. So many beautiful dresses out there, but I haven’t found any photos of videos of someone getting into a dress of this era.

    Please forgive my rank ignorance, I’m not a costumer myself. How is the skirt attached to the bodice? and how does the bodice work? I suppose I’m confused by the lacing up the front. I’m sure you’re quite busy so if you have links you could direct me to, I would be very grateful. Thank you!

    • helo there – glad yo like the post and the dress! as for the construction questions – the skirt is not attached to the bodice at all. Can be, with points, lacing the both together, like in earlier petticoat and bodices sets, or with hooks and eyes – bit here the skirt just sits nicely on higher waist. Bodice laces up n front over a separate stomacher. link – well this set was based on the existing garments shown in detail in the 17th century women’s dress patterns book – the link in the post I believe:-)

      • Ahh, it’s a stomacher! I don’t know why I didn’t realize that, I just assumed that those were no longer in use by this time (not sure why, silly).

        So, I suppose it goes: chemise, quilted (?) petticoat (?), high-waisted skirt, bodice over a stomacher. Thank you very, very much for clarifying!

  5. Pingback: Sewing Fast and Slow | A Damsel in This Dress

  6. Hi! I have just decided to make myself a gown in this style, but it’s hard for me to wrap my head around the bodice construction. You aren’t wearing any stays under this? And it’s just skirts and petticoats, with an open fronted bodice, with a boned stomacher, that you lace the open bodice over? It just seems like it would be hard to keep everything tight in the right places. Is there points attached to the skirts and bodice? And there is no body shaping kirtle under this?

    Thanks so much!

    • Hello there – As many bodices of that time,, the bodice is heavily boned – so doesn’t require any stays etc underneath. the bodice is open, laced over a stomacher ( also heavily boned). And believe me, once laced it doesn’t budge – i spent a whole day in it, walking, dancing, eating etc, nothing out of place. I have worn similar designs before too, and they are very comfortable. I do recommend the book mentioned in the post – it shows construction in detail, step by step – a great help if you are not familiar with the technique!

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