12 Century Bliaut with Girdle

A printable paper doll with 12th century clothing including a bliaut, girdle, headdress, stockings and shoes. A great homeschooling history activity or just a fun paper doll for anyone who likes medieval fashions.

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Thoughts on Today’s Paper Doll
So, I am still working on the 1100s, 1200s and 1300s paper dolls. The 1300s paper dolls aren’t even drawn yet. So, I’m sticking with the 1100s and 1200s. I’ll get to the 1300s when I have a moment.

Anyway, meanwhile, there’s this 1100s gown known as a bliaut. Can I confess that I’m not sure how to pronounce that word? Anyway, it’s the wide sleeved garment that most of us associate with the medieval era. Despite being popular in pop culture, it’s actually gown there’s a lot of debate about how it was constructed.

The bliaut was worn by men and women, often in layers. The length seems to have been regional. In France, they look really long, but in Germany there’s often a shorter bliaunt illustrated over a longer kirtle. So, there seems to be some variation in the regional styles.

Inspiration for Today’s Paper Doll
Okay, so I looked at a lot of pictures and a lot of statues and I read a bit. Here’s what I understand: The bliaut is the subject of a lot of debate, as I mentioned above. Statues of the time show a very wrinkled, almost pleated fabric effect (like this), but illustrations by and large don’t. When they do show horizontal wrinkles across the abdomen they tend to be more subtle (like this). Additionally, smaller statuary (like this one) doesn’t show wrinkles across the abdomen.

There are, at the moment, several theories as to why and how wrinkles abdomens got formed, from cutting the fabric on the bias and lacing the sides (to create wrinkles across the stomach) to making a separate bodice and attaching it to the skirt.

I chose to go with a more subtle wrinkled look in my illustration, because outside of the giant statuary outside French cathedrals,  the wrinkles just don’t seem the tight or distinct in the art of the time.

Specific Source Images: Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Chartres Statuary (see this picture) & Stuttgart WLB, cod. bibl. fol. 57, origin: Zwiefalten abbey circa 1125-1130, f. 55 as pictured here (retrieved 9/9/2019).

Learn/See More
On the Blog: More Jewels & Gemstones paper dolls, more paper dolls from the Medieval era, Topaz with her 1100s underwear
Around the Internet: Illumanu (a tumblr devoted to manuscript illustrations of clothing & dress), an interesting webpage with lots of pictures, and an interesting site with lots of pictures in German (I think?)

Last Thoughts
While I don’t have a real opinion on how bliauts were constructed, I do find it interesting the amount of debate there seems to be out there on the topic. The only theory I find least plausible is the separate bodice with skirt theory. I’ve seen some illustrations that seem to back it up, but never with proper citation. Cite your sources people! Additionally, separate bodices  would have had to have been invented and then ignored for like 300 years and that just seems implausible. Not impossible, mind you, but implausible. However, I always love to hear from folks to know more than me on these topics, so share away in the comments.

(But do try to keep it polite. I’ve had strange debates and oddly angry emails over medieval clothing before which, odd the true, still boggles my mind.)

Mean while, on Patreon, there’s an extra paper doll outfit every Friday! Plus previews of what I’m working on, polls and whole different paper doll series called Vivian. It’s a fun group. Check it out!

And if you need a paper doll with proper hair and undies for this era, grab Topaz in her 1100s underwear. The 1200s Lapis can also do in a pinch, if you’re more partial to redheads.

Topaz in the 1100s Undergarments and Shoes

A 12th century fashion paper doll with shoes, wigs and historical underwear.

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Thoughts on Today’s Paper Doll
I am super excited about this collection of paper dolls. I love costume history. Sometimes, I feel like despite my love of the topic (or perhaps because of it), I get a little paralyzed feeling like I have to do so much research before I can create something and worrying about the quality of my sources. This worries me less in eras I am confident in, such as the 19th and 20th century, and worries me more in eras I am not confident about.

But then I won’t learn or get better if I don’t practice drawing these periods, so I think it is okay to not be perfect. Even more importantly, I think you have to start with in perfection or you never move forward.

Inspiration for Today’s Paper Doll
Like last week’s Lapis, this week’s Topaz is wearing a shift based one illustrated in Roman de Giron le Courtois on Folio 87v. The manuscript dates from between 1370-1380. Illustrations of women in just shifts are exceedingly rare, so even though this is 200 years after the 1100s, I am still using it. I made my version shorter and tighter than the originals probably were to facilitate the paper doll layering clothing over the shift. Paper dolls have to layer.

Additionally, Topaz’s shoes all come from Stepping Through Time by Olaf Goubitz, a book on archeological footwear finds. It’s fascinating, but very densely written work. Women’s Hats, Headdresses and Hairstyles: With 453 Illustrations, Medieval to Modern by Georgine de Courtais was the book I used for her hair and headdress, along with this statue, Enthroned Virgin and Child, from The Met.

Specific Source Images: Roman de Giron le Courtois Bibliothèque nationale de France. Département des manuscrits. NAF 5243 (f.87v) &  Enthroned Virgin and Child ca. 1130–1140, The Met, Accession Number:47.101.15.

Learn/See More
On the Blog: More Jewels & Gemstones paper dolls & More from the Ballet and Dancing collection
Around the Internet: Claricia Psalter from the Late 12th Century

Last Thoughts
I’d like to give a shout out to my Patreon supporters, because without you all, the blog wouldn’t happen.

Additionally, later this week there will be a gown from the 12th century (aka the 1100s) and I am excited to share that though I am also nervous about how little I know about this era. However, this is how I learn, so there you go!

13th Century Sleeveless Surcoat over Dress

Free to print, a historical paper doll outfit from the 13th century surcoat design with a headdress and shoes with stockings.

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Thoughts on Today’s Paper Doll
Today’s paper doll dress is a surcoat (over-dress) over another dress. As far as I can tell, this style came into fashion in the second half of the 13th century and sticks around in various forms for over 100 years. As I said when I was showing off Lapis and her 13th century undergarments, I am not an expert on this time period. At best, I am a dabbling amateur. However, one thing I did notice as I looked at many many pictures was that the 13th century is similar to the 14th century, if they hadn’t yet mastered curved seams and tailoring techniques.

So, while in the 14th century they have sideless surcoats over fitted kirtles, that is not what you see in the 13th century. You see their predecessors- a sleeveless surcoat over a dress where just the sleeves are visible and there’s no waist as far as the eye can see. This style does continue into the first part 14th century- here is an example. Later the armholes lengthen, these surcoats are in the later 14th century style.

Clothing rarely confines itself to neat time ranges, but rather tends to ease over years and decade markers.

Inspiration for Today’s Paper Doll
As usual, the shoe designs come from Stepping Through Time by Olaf Goubitz, an excellent, in exceedingly dry, book on historical footwear. The surcoat is based on this illustration and this illustration while the headdress comes from here, but also from all the looking at headdresses I did when drawing Lapis.

Specific Source Images: Biblia Porta, Lausanne, Bibliothèque Cantonale et Universitaire, U 964 (fol.178r),  Collection of poems in Old French, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal- Arsenal 3142 (f.292r), Romance of Alexander, England, Cambridge University Library- Cambridge MS O.9.34 (f.25v), this recreation of 13th century dress & this recreation of 13th century dress

Learn/See More
On the Blog: More Jewels & Gemstones paper dolls, Lapis with her 13th century underwear & Everything I’ve Drawn from the 13th Century
Around the Internet: Illumanu (a tumblr devoted to manuscript illustrations of clothing & dress is one of my goto places for illustrations), Manuscript Miniatures (a website that collects manuscript miniatures) & the amazing Gallica, the digital library of France

Last Thoughts
I previewed a lot of this collection over on Patreon. So, thank you to all my Patrons to encouraged me to continue even though I was a little nervous. Reminder: There’s an extra paper doll outfit every Friday, plus previews of what I’m working on and polls and things. Check it out!

Rarely have I wished I knew more medieval Latin, but when I am looking for primary source illustrations of clothing I do. It’s very hit and miss, but I do my best with my limited knowledge. I respect people who do recreations of these garments, but I wish more of them properly cited their source images. It’s very frustrating to find a great illustration from an illuminated manuscript, but have no way of knowing where it came from. I won’t use anything that doesn’t properly cite a source. I’m a librarian, after all. I have some standards.

Lapis in the 1200s

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Thoughts on Today’s Paper Doll
There are time periods where I feel like I know a fair amount and then there are time periods of fashion history where I feel (and I am) quite ignorant. The 1200s are one of those time periods. It’s not an era I have a great deal of natural interest in (sorry 1200s) and I don’t really feel like devoting the long hours of research to it. Also, I think the headdresses look funny.

So, all of that is to say that I noticed the basically the only different from the 1100s through the 1300s was headdresses and the undergarments all stayed pretty much the same. There are some documented differences in the 1400s, but I’ll get into that when I get around to drawing it. The result of this discovery was excitement when I realized I could draw the same shift and basically have a period underwear wearing paper doll for a 300 year time period.

This was very exciting. (Listen, I know this wouldn’t be exciting to normal people, but I make my own fun.)

So, this is the first of a series of paper dolls from the 1100s, 1200s and 1300s.

Inspiration for Today’s Paper Doll
Lapis is wearing a shift based one illustrated in Roman de Giron le Courtois on Folio 87v. The manuscript dates from between 1370-1380. Yes, I realize that’s like 100 years later than this paper doll, but here’s the thing- illustrations of women in just shifts are exceedingly rare, so I am going to take what I can get. A few differences in my rendition are that the length is a little shorter and the style is quite fitted. Both of these changes were done to facilitate the paper doll layering clothing over the shift.

Her headdresses are in the style of the barbette and fillet. The barbette is the piece that goes under the chin and the fillet is the pillbox hat looking piece that wraps around the head. One point I couldn’t quite sort out was whether the fillet was open or closed at the top. This manuscript illustration looks closed while this manuscript illustration it could go either way. These ones look closed while this one is definitely open.

In the end, I went with Women’s Hats, Headdresses and Hairstyles: With 453 Illustrations, Medieval to Modern by Georgine de Courtais where fig 13 on shows it closed and that was my decision. I maybe totally wrong. The book was originally published in 1986, which while not super current, is current enough for me to feel fairly confident in it. Unlike, for example, books on historical costume first published in the 19th century when I have serious doubts about the quality of the scholarship.

The designs for her shoes come from Stepping Through Time by Olaf Goubitz, an excellent, in exceedingly dry, book on historical footwear.

Specific Source Images: Roman de Giron le Courtois Bibliothèque nationale de France. Département des manuscrits. NAF 5243 (f.87v), Lausanne Bibliothèque Cantonale et Universitaire, U 964 (f.93v),  The Old Testament The Pierpoint Morgan Library, MS M.638 (f.33v) & Decretals by Gregory IX, with the apparatus of Bernard of Parma, University of Oxford, Bodleian Library,  MS. Lat. th. b. 4 (f.168r)

Learn/See More
On the Blog: More Jewels & Gemstones paper dolls
Around the Internet: Illumanu (a tumblr devoted to manuscript illustrations of clothing & dress) & a beautiful reproduction outfit here

Last Thoughts
I’m tossing this out to the audience today, because there’s a high chance someone out there knows way more about 1200s clothing than I do. That would not be hard. Was the fillet open on the top or closed? Because I can’t seem to get a clear answer on that one. Thoughts? (And if you tell me your sources on why you think one or the other, I would be eternally grateful.)

Over on Patreon, there’s an extra paper doll outfit every Friday, plus previews of what I’m working on and polls and things. Check it out!

Ms. Mannequin’s 15th Century Burgundian Gown and Headdress


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Today’s Printable Paper Doll Inspirations: This Manuscript Illustration from 1470, this Manuscript Illustration from 1401-1500, this one from the same work, and this Manuscript Illustration from 1475

A Burgundian gown for a paper doll based on illuminated manuscript illustrations. Along with the gown, there is a headdress based on the designs of the 1450s.

A Burgundian gown for a paper doll based on illuminated manuscript illustrations. Along with the gown, there is a headdress based on the designs of the 1450s.

Today’s paper doll dress and headdress are both from the 15h century. The gown is known as a Burgundian gown named for the Duchy of Burgundy.

About 1450, this style of Burgundian gown became popular. The deep V-neckline revealed the kirtle (under dress) beneath. The trimming would have been fur or wool. The wide belt was placed above the natural waist and gives the gowns a pregnant look.

(Remember, being pregnant was a good thing for women in this time. After all, fertility was seen as a super critical part of a woman’s value.)

Women never had uncovered hair in this era. So, I needed a headdress to go with the Burgundian gown.

The headdress I chose to draw was based on this illustration of the Whore of Babylon from an 1470 manuscript. The headdress is from 1450, according to the Morgan Library where the manuscript is housed. I’m afraid I don’t know quite enough about the era yet (though I am studying) to make any claim either way.

By the way, the wonderful book Illuminating Fashion: Dress in the Art of Medieval France and the Netherlands, 1325-1515 is currently on sale from the Morgan Library for just 20 dollars. I bought a copy for my library and I’d recommend it if you are at all interested in medieval dress. Though it doesn’t touch on how these garments were made, nor does it discuss how to make them yourself, so… don’t buy it if that is what you want.

Secondary Sources:

Houston, Mary G. Medieval Costume in England and France: The 13th, 14th, and 15th Centuries. N.p.: Dover Publications, 1996. Print.

Scott, Margaret. Fashion in the Middle Ages. N.p.: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2011. Print.

Scott, Margaret. Medieval Dress & Fashion. N.p.: British Library, 2009. Print.

Ask me if you have any questions about the books or the manuscripts I looked at. There are links to all the manuscript illustrations at the top under the “inspiration” links list. I was just too lazy tonight to bother citing them all properly.

I know. I’m a rebel librarian sometimes. Happy Friday!

A 1300s Fashion Paper Doll

1300s-historical-paper-doll-logo Once again, we are dabbling in the 1300s with today’s paper doll. There’s no new sources for this one, so if you want to know what I referenced, than I would recommend returning to my last paper doll of the 1300s with a sources list at the bottom.

One of my goals for 2016 was to draw ten historical paper dolls. I confess I am far from achieving that goal and we’re halfway though the year (nearly), so I seriously need to get my act together on this one. So, my goal for the next few days is to buckle down and get some drawing, scanning and finishing done.

We’ll see how that goes.

I have a few days off work and I always start these things with a long list of “goals”, but I fear my plans are often larger than my capacity. Still, I’m out of backlog and nothing is as good as an artist motivation as desperation.

A 1300s fashion paper doll coloring page with a five piece wardrobe. Free to print and color from paperthinpersonas.com.

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Picking out colors wasn’t very hard, since I seem to always come back to the same ones when it comes to the 1300s. I blame it on medieval manuscripts I have seen. I always think of the 14th century was being red and blue and gold.

Sterotypical, perhaps, but none the less. There we are.

A 1300s fashion paper doll with a five piece wardrobe. Free to print from paperthinpersonas.com.

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Between my new 1300s Buxom and Bodacious paper doll, my viking paper doll, and my Cranach paper doll, we’re starting to get a pretty nice set of early Western Fashions. I keep promising myself I’ll do one from a decade of the 19th century, but I can’t pick one. So, 19th century B&B series suggestions would be welcomed.

Lastly, I hope everyone has a delightful week.

Tibbets and Kirtles in Color: A Printable Paper Doll of the 1300s

logo-1300-colorLast week, we got to see my mid-1300s paper doll set in black and white. This week, here she is in color. Historical printable paper dolls always make me a little nervous. In inevitably, choices have to be made about what to include or not include and how to render a period’s fashion. These choices are easier the more you know about the period and harder the less you know. One of the reasons I often turn to Medieval inspired or Renaissance inspired rather than actual historical paper dolls is the knowledge that I don’t know enough to always make appropriate choices.

What I am not comfortable doing is always trusting the many sites out there that don’t cite their sources with enough detail to actually find the material if you needed it or want to confirm it’s authenticity. While I love the internet, I find that I don’t use it that much when I am doing this sort of research. I seem to fall back on my library training and rely on reputable secondary sources published in scholars with names in the field, backed up my own knowledge of solid collections of digitized medieval manuscripts where I can dig for source images, plus a few tumblers and blogs that seem to know what they are doing.

And this method worked great until I got down the problem of color. Now, I always think of the 1300s as being richly red and blue and gold, because those are colors I have seen in medieval manuscripts. Just because, however, they made a dress red in a book doesn’t mean the dress was commonly red in real life. Pigments used for illumination aren’t the same a pigments used for dyeing cloth and medieval art is heavy on analogy and symbolism.

1300-historical-paper-doll-color
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What I really didn’t want to do was do a ton a research on natural dye processes, because a lot of people have written a lot on the topic. Textile fragments like this one, an incredible velvet cope or this equally amazing cope from the V&A Collections proved to me that colors were rich in the 1300 hundreds. So, I used those images along with this Medieval Colors article from Aux Mailles Godefroy. The resulting colors are a little more muted than was probably possible in the 1300s, but I just couldn’t get over my preconceived notions of muted tones despite seeing examples of bright yellows produced with natural dyes. The truth is that both linen and wool, common fabrics in the 1300s, take dye really well. The world was likely a lot more vibrant than my preconceived notions of history suggest.

By the way, most of my primary and secondary sources for this paper doll set are listed on the black and white version. It was a long list and I didn’t want to repeat it here. So go check that out, if you want to see what I used to create my mid-1300’s paper doll.