So, having selected this plaid fabric and then worked up the courage (and documentation) to make a houppelande out of it, it was time to settle in on a style. I decided to cut this in the style that starts with two half circles, which are then cut down to quarter circles. The end points of these circles are cut off and then sewn together to form the shoulders. The nature of this style causes the plaid to fall on the bias.
With such a detailed and busy pattern, Elisabeth suggested a simple style and finishing – and I agreed. My plan is to cut the sleeves fairly fitted and the cuffs and collar will be finished in a brown fur.
Having made that decision, the next quest was obvious…find the fur. I ordered 7 brown fur samples from a company that sells the most amazing faux fur. Some were just too distracting, but in the end I found what I was looking for – a classic rich brown.
It all started last November with a visit to the Pendleton store. Just look at what I found – an exceptionally lovely woven plaid. Not surprisingly, 11 yards came home with me. While I knew that I could document plaid fabrics to 14th century England (Museum of London, Textiles and Clothing pg. 50), I was not certain about using it for a houppelande.
And so, I set out to find evidence of woven plaid wool used to make a houppelande – and I found it! Located in Germany, at the Heidelberg University Library, is a text produced in workshop that existed in 1418 Alsace, France. This book tells Rudolf von Ems’ French tale Willehalm von Orleans (1235–1240). It is the story of an ideal knight striving to survive in a harsh world of practical realities. Imagine my excitement as I examied each page (wonderfully photographed and posted online) to find multiple plaid images.
And so, I’ve begun the process by cutting out the gown. Now I’m committed to the plaid – and loving it!