Linen blend doublet with embroidery and couching

The inspiration was a collar seen (sorry to say) on Shakespeare in Love - an embroidered collar in blue colours. I was looking for something to make for Dafydd for the Bal Pupure. I decided to base the entire outfit on an underdoublet with an embroidered collar, in purples, trying to incorporate the raven from Dafydd's device. I was eager to try some split stitch embroidery taught to me by Mistress Acacia, an embroidery laurel.

 Dafydd's device: canting on his name- Dafydd Wallraven


Research and Design:

I consulted Janet Arnold's Queen Elizabeth Unlock'd and Patterns of Fashion, as my hubby Dafydd wanted a later period feel to his outfit. They showed much couching on doublets in the 'chevron' style. I hand made the couching cord, to give a more accurate feel, to the couching, and to make it much easier to colour match and cheaper in cost, for the large amounts I would need. (I am also to couch the sleeves in chevron pattern).

 The design (right top), was the final one for the the collar. There were also many examples of split-stitch 'painted-like' designs to fill in doublets and skirts. Plants and animals were a recurring theme. I wanted to include a raven, from Dafydd's device motif, and acanthus leaves to give a more 'guy' feel, rather than flowers etc. I used chain-stitch, split-stitch, and stem stitch. All three of these were consistently mentioned in the book and internet research, that I found. I found a 'crow' in Alciato's Book of Emblems, first published in 1531, p 38 (right), as a symbol of harmony and, p73 wiked crows. I concluded that a crow (heraldically similar to a raven) could have been used in embroidery.

I used the acanthus leaf design which (below right, website ref 5) be seen in scribes work in the 1400s (The Annunciation, The Belles Heures of Jean of France, Duke of Berry, 14068 or 1409 Pol, Jean, and Herman de Limbourg (Franco-Netherlandish, active in France, by 13991416)

 Opus anglicium, a form of painting with embroidery is done in split stitich, couching (website ref 1). It was particularly popular in 13th century for eclesiastic decoration. I found a secular example of opus anglicium embroidery, 15th century Italian, (ref website 4)


I used white cotton/linen blend for the doublet and its lining. I used DMC embroidery floss for the embroidered collar. The buttons were made from wooden beads, covered by knotting and stitching cotton crochet cord. (website ref 6, also Janet Arnold's pattern of fashion) 


As I did not give myself much time, and I wanted to use a 'v' collar pattern to fit the embroidery design, For this garment, I was more concerned about the embroidery collar, which I spent 2 months doing, than the pattern itself. The design is shown on page 1, below is the back of the embroidery. The embroidery was done in Opus Anglicium fashion (ref 2) often described as painting in embroidery. Embroidery was used commonly to embellish materials. fingerbraid cord was couched in a chevron pattern for the body of the underdoublet.The buttons were made from wooden beads, covered with cotton crochet cord. This gave a similar appearance to the buttons in Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion.

What I would do differently.

Again, given myself more time. I am planning on finishing the sleeves, with couching to match the doublet. I have to make another layer to cover this one. - a more formal doublet for wearing in public. I would have liked to have used 100% linen material and silk embroidery floss, if I could afford it.

 What I have learned:

I learned 2 new skills, that of button making, using wooden beads, and split stitch embroidery.

Dafydd at Innilgard Winter Collegium, 2005.


the buttons, on Dafydd's venetians are the same as on the doublet.

Dafydd's doublet at its first outing: the Bal Purpure.



1. Opus Anglicanum by Mistress Acacia Navarre : http://www.sca.org.au/st_florians/Artisains-guilds/embroidery/opus.htm

2. Renaissance Tailor (making buttons) : http://www.vertetsable.com/demos_buttons.htm

3. Alciato's book of emblems - http://www.mun.ca/alciato/

4. Arts & Antiques fair objects exposition http://www.arca.net/arts_antiques/expo/a111o3.htm

5. The Metropolitan Museum of art/Manuscript Illumination in Northern Europe http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/manu/hob_54.1.1_av1.htm

6. Renaissance Tailor (making buttons) : http://www.vertetsable.com/demos_buttons.htm


3. Arnold, Janet. Patterns of fashion (1560-1620) Macmillan, 1985.

4. Arnold, Janet Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd.

All intellectual content, photos and layout are copyright to La Signora Onorata Katerina da Brescia (K Carlisle), except those original renaissance artworks and extant articles whose copyright remains with the current owner.

If you would like to use something from this site, please contact me, and cite this website reference.