Dawn's Costume Guide

Men's 16th century doublet
from Butterick 5656

Butterick 5656 is a men's costume pattern that appears to fall somewhere in the "medieval and renaissance" era without being an actual historical garment. With a few changes, though, you can adapt this pattern to become a fairly close reproduction of an "Elizabethan" style doublet suitable for wear by men or women.

If you prefer, you can draft out the darts instead of redrawing the side seams as shown here in the first half of these directions. Drafting out darts results in a more historically correct pattern, though many people still prefer the look of side-seam styling shown here.

What you Need:

the pattern
paper scissors
colored pencils

Open up the pattern and find the "doublet" pieces. They are 3,4,5,7,8, and 9. Cut them out of the sheet, but DO NOT CUT TO SIZE YET!

Iron the pieces flat. Use medium heat and no steam.

Step One:

the front and back body

Note: You can right click on any of these images to view them in a larger format with more detail.

The 16th century doublet was shaped with side seams instead of darts. Darts make for an easy pattern because you have to cut and fit fewer pieces. It also screams "20th century".

Here is the back pattern (#4)

Lay yours out flat and find the dart at the bottom waist. Draw a curved line from the top of the dart to the double diamond mark on the armscye on your size line as shown in red.

Draw a second line 5/8 of an inch on the right side of the first, all the way down to the dart. You have just added seam allowance to the center back. (Shown in green)

From the point of the dart measure over to the right 1 and 1/4 inches and mark a dot. Draw a line to the waist parallel to the right hand dart side, as shown. (Shown in blue) Continue the line up along the new seamline (blue) 5/8 of an inch to the right. Draw the line to the NEXT LARGER SIZE. If this puts you off the pattern, just tape a scrap of tissue on and add 5/8 of an inch.

Find the underarm side point for your size.

Find the underarm point for the NEXT LARGER SIZE and mark 1/4 inch to the right. Draw down to the waistline. (light blue) Draw the line 1/4 to the right of the armscye and connect up with your darker blue line as shown. Add 5/8 inch seam allowance to the left of the blue line, as shown.

You now have two pattern pieces marked out. Label them as center back and side back. You can now cut out your sized pieces. (The cutting lines are green and light blue now)

Now you want to do the same thing to the front pattern. (Upper Front #3)

Final (and very important) step. On the side back and side front pieces, on the line marked "Lengthen or Shorten Here", add in two inches of extra tissue. Just cut on the line and tape in a strip. Trim the sides of your pattern. When you cut your fabric and sew it you will discover that some of this extra will get taken up in the side seam, and you will need to even out the waistline during assembly. How much you actually use depends on what size you are cutting and how you ease in the fabric. Better to have two inches too much, than too little though.

Step Two:

the skirts and tabs

The last adjustment we need to make is to the skirt pieces, Lower Front #8 and Lower Back #9. You have two easy options:

For a split tabbed skirt draw a line 4 inches below the waist line, running horizontal and parallel to it.

From the point of the dart, draw a line to the right front edge of the pattern, and another line to the left seam edge in your size.

You now have two irregular trapezoids that are your skirt tab pieces. Add 5/8 of an inch of seam allowance to each piece as shown in green. This makes up for removing the dart.

To make the skirts without tabs, you need to first move the dart into the side seam.

Find the seam line for your size, measure down 4 inches (the length of the dart)and connect the triangle at the waist seam at the next SMALLER size (or 1" to the right if you use the smallest pattern given)As shown by the red lines.

From your new side seam draw a straight line to the top center front of the waist line, down four inches, and back to your side seam as shown by the blue line. This is your new front skirt pattern.

Repeat the procedure for the back skirt pieces. Measure four inches down from the waist line and don't forget to add seam allowances to your new pattern pieces.

Back skirt with tabs: Draw your irregular trapezoids as you did for the front pieces.

Back skirt without tabs: Since this is a fairly large dart, you want to take some of it off each seam to even out the pattern.

Notice that the back dart is longer than 4 inches and your final pattern piece (in blue) is going to look smaller than it does on the front. Just make sure you measure it right and you'll be fine.

Finally, add in your seam allowance (green).

All text and artwork copyright 1990 - 2001 D. Duperault. NOTHING on this site may be reproduced or distributed by any means without my written permission. This information offered in good faith, and worth only what you paid for it.
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