My intention is to create a wardrobe of clothing for a wealthy English woman around about the year 1640. All the garments should work together, and be worn in different combinations to create different looks - a bit like Pink n' Pretty Barbie (if you remember her).


I'll be using a limited colour palette - mainly golden yellow and pale blue. Golden yellow seems to have been a favourite colour during the mid 1600s, seen being worn in many portraits. The blue is a good foil to the yellow, creating the effect of a  warm summer’s sky. My natural inclination is towards dark, muted colours, so it’s good to challenge expectations sometimes.


Left - Lady Elizabeth Thimbelby and her sister

Anthony van Dyke c.1635 


Right - detail from

'Merry Company'

Anthonie Palamedesz 1630

The effect I'm aiming for but in reverse

detail from  'Merry Company'  Anthonie Palamedesz 1630. Painting of seated woman wearing blue and gold satin gown, and white lace collar


The fabric I've chosen is duchess satin, which has a good weight and a beautiful sheen. Plain, shiny fabrics were the most fashionable during the mid 1600s. Unfortunately, finances don’t allow me to use 100% silk materials, but this project isn’t about being totally authentic, it’s about creating the correct silhouette, the right combination of clothing items worn in the right way.


On a similar topic I’ll be using my sewing machine to do the bulk of the sewing. I feel I have nothing left to prove by hand stitching this project. I will, however, be hand finishing any stitching which might be visible – including hems, application of bindings and trim, top stitching edges etc.  


What I’m planning to make 

  • Yellow pair of stiffened bodies
  • Two petticoats – one yellow, one blue
  • At least two pairs of sleeves – one yellow, one blue – to attach to the bodies
  • Yellow over gown, lined with blue
  • A ‘hungerline’ (over waistcoat) – colour undecided
  • Blue stomacher
  • Blue waistcoat


This is not a dress diary, and I won’t be documenting every step of the construction process – just those that I think are relevant. Where I include patterns these are not to scale but for illustrative purposes only.