Friday, September 30, 2011

Unterhosen Construction - Part 1: Analysis of Extant Unterhosen and Pattern

Using the images I've gathered thus far on unterhosen (braies) from c1480-1507, I have come up with an idea about construction.  They look fairly simple from the image on Dürer's The Men's Bath and for someone with more sewing experience, they likely are old hat, but I had to do some hard thinking about this one.  Sad, I know... it kept me awake for hours! :D

In any case, here's what I did... I decided to make a mock-up of the unterhosen for my daughter in cotton, but I needed to make sure I knew what I was doing first, therefore...

Instead of relying on my sleepless cogitations that were formed from all kinds of weird assumption, I decided to pull out the trusty extant unterhosen picture from Harpfe and have a good long study.  I have determined the following from the image:
  • It appears as if the thin ties used to connect the loincloth together from front to back are short sections of fabric sewn into a tube.  It is not one long piece of fabric encircling the entire waist.
  • It appears as if the main section of the loincloth is a single piece of fabric.  My erroneous assumption was that it was two pieces of fabric sewn together for thickness and comfort, but I have yet to find a seam that would actually support this.
  • It appears as if the edges of the loincloth are finished with a rolled hem. Check along the edge of the back left and right leg sections.  Near the top of the left leg is a section where the hem looks to be unraveling.
  • It appears as if the fabric used to making these unterhosen was a fairly tight weave of a reasonably heavy thread, but I am not a fabric expert by any means, so I could be way off.  I can only say for certain that it is a reasonably heavy weight of fabric and you can't see through it.
  • These were worn and repaired numerous times if the knots on the front left and back right are any indication along with the reparations made to the front of the loin cloth area.
  • The front of the unterhosen was likely worn lower than the back, which, considering how they are depicted in artwork, would make sense.
With all of this in mind, I made a mental pattern for what I needed to do.  Wider in the back, narrow in the crotch and a little wider in the front -- a bottom heavy hour glass, if you will.  Then  I took the measurement of my daughter's groin from where the unterhosen would rest around her hips, front to back, then however wide she was going to need them to be across the front (between the hips), across the back and between her legs.  Seemed fairly straight forward.  To these I added hem allowances on all four sides to make sure I had enough material.  I always believe in "It's easier to make smaller, than larger." after the material is cut. (Btw, the leftover material from my daughter's hemd worked great for this!)

Next time I'll show you how it all came together, hopefully...


Gottfried said...

I am very intrigued by the image of the extant piece of underwear that you have found do you happen to know where it is being stored.
I would like to try and get a better look an more detailed photographs.

Khaentlahn said...

The only thing I've been able to determine thus far from the article, "Die Unaussprechlichen" by Beatrix Nutz (Harpfe - Journal of Cultural Studies, pgs 30-31, Dec 2010), is that these particular Unterhose were found in a Tyrol excavation site. I have not been able to pin down the exact site though or where this example may be stored. The original article is in my widget at the bottom of the page if you want to look at it more closely.