Arts & Crafts


Historical Garments

12th century English

Back at university, I made myself a 12th century garment, all by hand, apart from buying that fabric. A linen dress (should probably have been wool, but I didn’t know then) with tablet woven border and woollen stockings. More recently, I made a pair of shoes for it, also by hand, but I had a local shoemaker put rubber soles underneath.

12th century tablet-woven border

16th century Irish (female)

Having moved to Kilkenny, I got more interested in the Tudor/ Renaissance period, so I set out to make garments for that, too. I followed one of Lucas de Heere’s period drawings (see to the left) rather than a pattern which was quite challenging. This time it was machine-sewn, but with materials as authentic as possible. I also made shoes for that, and I’m much more pleased with them. I followed one of AT Lucas’ patterns for the shoes. The chemise is made from (locally bought) linen, the kirtle from online sourced wool fabric from Germany and locally bought linen. It uses recycled bits of the street cleaning car’s brush for boning (see image). That’s not quite authentic, because stays weren’t used at that time in Ireland, but at least it’s not in the streets any longer. The gown is made from online sourced wool from Germany, online sourced (because of COVID19 lockdown) linen and the shoes are made from locally sourced leather from a shut-down shoe factory.

16th century Irish (male)

During the summer of 2021, I made a costume for one of my tour guide colleagues and fellow map enthusiast following the Albrecht Dürer and Lucas de Heere depictions. The léine is made from linen and done with a sewing machine, but the íonar made from lambswool kindly sponsored by Cushendale Woollen Mills was sewn by hand.

The costume is not on display in Rothe House, and I use it on my guided tour sometimes to explain the various laws Henry VIII brought to Ireland to suppress Irish fashion.


Before you ask – no, I never took a course (unless you count two years workworking and stuff like that in primary school). It’s just trial and error and a bit of YouTube.