This dress is inspired by several pictures of lower class women, mostly maids, in Hans Weigel's Trachtenbuch and by a Swedish glass painting from c. 1600, which shows peasants dancing and which you can see parts of below.
As you can see in the glass painting the women are wearing jackets over their kirtles/gowns and white or coloured tight-fitting coifs. You can also see that the peasant men are wearing trousers, which isn't that interesting to me, but may be to some of you.
Weigel's prints of maids, peasants and artisans wives can be found here, on my old web site, I will see if I can find them somewhere else too.
The kirtle, or dress, is hand sewn, with linen thread, and made from a rather coars worsted wool tabby. I thought the blue may be a little strong for a peasant dress and in vain tried to tone it down with a tea bath. Since then I have learnt that this colour is achievable with woad, a common dye in peasants' clothing, so I feel good about using it now. The bodice is lined with heavy half-bleached linen and has boning on each side of the lacing holes, in the side-back seams and in a v-shape in the front. The lacing holes are sewn with buttonhole silk. The kirtle ended up a little shorter in the bodice than I intended, a couple of centimtres above the natural waist; but since I have a very long torso this actually makes me look more proportional.
The skirt is unlined and most of the pleats are at the back. I also made sleeves that can be pinned on for additional warmth.
The jacket is made from a dark teal fulled wool. Apart from the side and shoulder seams in the lining, which is the same linen as in the kirtle, it is also hand sewn, but here I used buttonhole silk. It is closed with hooks and eyes, alternating sides for the hook and eye respectively. This makes them less likely to open when I don't intend them to. The small stand-up collar is in one piece with the front and back pieces. If you look at the Swedish painting and at the Weigel prints you see that with the exception of the Flemish or French maid, their jackets don't have any skirting or tabs, so I didn't make any either. The sleeve is curved, with the seam on the front side, and a seam going from the wrist to the elbow on the backside of the arm.
I chose to make my coif after the pattern for an elizabthan coif in The Tudor Tailor. Since my head is a little larger than average and my hair is thick enough to take up some extra space I made it a little bigger than the pattern, ca two centimetres in circumference and one centimetre wider in the brim. The circle was the same size however; so there is relatively less gathering. It's hand sewn from fine linen, with half-bleached linen thread. Below you can see a picture of the coif in profile.
The red woollen cap is made from the same pattern as the linen coif, only that I made the brim slightly narrower and the circle even smaller, so that it almost isn't gathered at all. This is a free interpretation of the coloured caps in the glass painting; they may well be made as two halves with a centre seam, or some other construction without a gathered circle. But I think it looks really spiffy. Both this and the other coif is wired with millinery wire that I sew by hand to the seam allowances, very close to the seam, before turning the brim.
And, finally, there is a photo of my shoes and stockings. The stockings are knit from unbleached wool (not by me, I bought them) and the shoes are made from vegetable tanned leather and sewn by my dear friend Anna.
The blue apron is made from thin wool, a worsted tabby in grey warp and blue weft. It is sewn to a ribbon, but not all the way, a construction that can be seen on many German and Flemish/Dutch prints and paintings from the later 16th century. The white apron is hand woven linen. I plan to make a wider, white linen apron too.
The smock is an old one (as in made two years ago), hand sewn from linen with linen thread.