04 September 2012

Under There!

Yesterday I showed you my crotchless gaucho panties (I'm sorry, I love saying that, lol).  Today it's all about the boobs.

By now you've all seen this:

15th century longline bra
found at Schloss Lengberg

And possibly something along the lines of this:

from the Wenceslas Bible

As I said yesterday, I'm not really up for a full chemise under my dresses, especially since I feel like I need to wear braies or shorts of something pant-like under there.  Ever since I started seeing these "bras" and bust-supporting chemises, I've been fascinated with them, and with the idea of adapting something similar for my own uses.

What I really love is the idea of not having to wear a self-supporting cotehardie.  Don't get me wrong, they're awfully convenient; but it means that I can either wear cotehardies, or I can wear something looser, but wear a modern bra underneath it.  And we all know exactly how comfy modern bras are.  Especially for those of us blessed by a bit extra frame size, girth, or just extra boobage.

Enter the supportive chemise!  Hallelujah!!!  I can wear a cotehardie I can BREATHE in!*   I can wear my bliaut without a cote or modern bra underneath!  I can wear looser, earlier-period stuff and not wear a modern bra or just walk around sagging all day!  BOOB SWEAT!  

Except that I still don't want a full extra layer.  Solution #1 was the gaucho panties from yesterday.  Solution #2 is a Medieval Sports Bra: 

Technically this top should have a pleated skirt hanging from it, and yes, I do plan on making some full chemises like this in the future, but for now, until it cools off, I'll be rocking this ensemble under my clothes. ONE underlayer, ONE overlayer. Period. (Joke! Ha!)  

I started with my basic cotehardie pattern with the straight shoulder seams.   I cut the bust a bit long, like I did with the faux-hardie, and then adjusted the armholes in and the shoulders up a bit to fit the pattern better (I'm a growing girl!)  The entire thing is cut on the bias, so it's nearly as stretchy as a modern sports bra, but since it's linen and not spandex, it's much softer against the skin, and breathes MUCH better.  

You'll notice it gaps badly in the front.  This is because I put hooks and eyes up the front, inside the front edge.  I didn't want to have to bother with lacing myself in and out of this, and then also lacing up a dress - getting dressed in a tent already takes long enough, you know?  Thankfully, it doesn't show under a cotehardie or my bliaut.  And it's so FAST to take off and put on.  Only way it could be faster is if I put a zipper in it, hehe....and don't think I didn't think about it. 

Overall:  YAY!   As with the gaucho panties, the sports bra will get its first test run this coming weekend at the first even of the season.  I'm so excited!!! I can has Friday yet?

* my cotes are actually really comfy, but when my asthma's acting up?  Psh. FORGET IT. 


  1. Okay, for supportive chemises: this wasn't a thing. There's massive debate on artists of that time just drawing the bust rather perky, because there are illuminations showing naked women with busts just as perky as in a kirtle. The laced kirtle is not a cote. Cotehardies are the outer garment, worn with buttons. More often this is in reference to the man's version. But I keep in mind that this is mostly related to medieval Briton.

    Kirtles can in fact be supportive. If it isn't, it's because you've found the wrong pattern. Try the Medieval Tailor's kirtle, or Rosalie's Medieval Woman, called Laced or Fitted Kirtle. I personally love Rosalie's pattern.

    As long as you make it snug, it should fit very comfortably and still give you support. If you're still wanting the "bra" version, just make it sleeveless, but make the bodice go down to your hips. It's really difficult to have it support properly otherwise. The reason for the laced kirtle is to wear underneath the outer gown, offering true support. If you focus on the curve for the bust and the waist, you should have the support you need. Just make sure that your fabric is doubled, preferably a sturdy linen for it to breathe, and line the placket with a straight strip. Bias isn't needed but preferred. Don't use metal on the eyelets. Satin stitch your eyelets, and keep them 2cm apart, while at the very edge of the fabric. It'll look invisible, and you'll be very happy with how smooth it will look under your garb. I do spiral lacing, but I prefer using even-set eyelets, meaning not staggered for spiral lacing. It's just easier.

    If you don't make your eyelets big enough for metal aglets, I suggest this method from the site Fieggen. Look up "Ian's Shoelace Site Aglets" and it should come up.

    The medieval bra that was found was for women who may have needed extra support. It was also 15th century, therefore may have been worn with gowns that didn't use a laced kirtle, but had a stiff bodice. I'm just trying to put things in perspective.

    This laced kirtle, when done correctly, helps eliminate the need for a modern bra. The reason you don't want a bra with garb at events is because it doesn't give the desired silhouette. In some garb is blindingly obvious and a bit intrusive. That's why I at least suggest the "shirt" version. From 12th to 14th century garb, I suggest this: Chemise > Laced Kirtle > Gown. Braies were worn, though the debate on panty-like underware irritates me. The finding of the bikini style panties along with the bra should be enough!

    But the chemise... It really is best to wear a chemise. You won't need to wash your other garb as often, and it saves your garb from skin oil and sweat. Even if it's cold, you still sweat. The sweat we see is just the result of our core temperature running hot enough for it to be noticeable. And hey, the only thing you need to wash is your chemise. So I suggest at least having short sleeves on it, to cover your underarms and keep your deoderant off of your garb. Whether you use cheap muslin or nice gauze, it's really worth it.

    I'm only stating all this so that you can understand the kirtle and chemise uses better. I'm not saying that you -need- this to be super period, but just to consider the practical uses. I base my garb on my "kirtle for fitting" so that everything has a nice silhouette. It just happens to look more authentic as well.

    But anyway, I hope you find this helpful and not poking fun at your ideas. I actually think they're interesting. The "pants" you've made remind me more of Victorian undergarments, but part of the SCA is the creative portion, right? We really don't know what individuals did simply for comfort. Maybe someone did make a medieval sports bra. Medieval roman women had their own sports bikinis.

  2. All sorts of theories abound. More and more research is being done into the supportive undergarment; it makes such practical sense it seems counter-intuitive to deny its existence.

    Mady and I are in Ansteorra...elimination of layers is not only essential, but life-saving.


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