The Florence Diaries:  Kat's Linen Calze (updated pattern)
Recreated by La Signora Onorata Katerina da Brescia.

A pair of crimson linen calze, with gheroni

Women’s renaissance stockings, or hose were generally to the knee or just above the knee and were footed, as seen in Queen Elizabeth’s Wardrobe Unlock’d and A History of Hand Knitting and Textiles and Clothing. They were could knitted or made from cloth, cut on the bias to give stretch. They are recorded as made from linen, silk, wool, sarcenet, flannel. There is also mention of linings and ‘doble linen’. It is conjectured, in Queen Elizabeth’s Wardrobe Unlock’d, that this may have meant linen stockings lined with linen. Dressing Renaissance Florence mentions that the hose of the earlier Italian renaissance was made of 'perpignanao a washable, stretch woollen fabric originally developed in France.

Eleanor d' Toledo owned mostly silk knitted stockings. However the Gardaroba more commony lists wool cloth stockings for Cosimo and their children (La Mode a Firenze). Cosmio d'Medici forbade women to wear silk stockings, in 1562. In winter, socks could be worn under the stockings, for warmth.

Extant examples of women's stockings can be found in Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd. Both are from the late 16th century. Pictorial representations such as Pierto Bertelli's Cortigiana Veneza (Venetian courtesan) can be found in Diversarum Nationum Habitus , 1591 (V&A Museum) & 1594-1596 ( Banca dati Biblioteca Riccardiana).

For this project, I decided to make a new pair of stockings. This time, I will make them longer, to allow for overlap under the drawers. Right is a drawing of my stocking design.

See my past research article on Stockings: On Yer Legges.

Extant Examples:

Extant eg. from Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd
L: Queen Elizabeth (English) & R: Eleanor d' Medici (Italian, knitted)

Diversarum Nationum Habitus (Venice). Looking below the drawers are the stockings.

Marc Carlson's website gives patterns based on archeological finds

See ON YER LEGGES for more information on stockings research

I used my basic patterns but adapted them to resemble the patterns from A History of Hand Knitting (this also mentions cloth hose being cut on the bias) and on the pattern (right) is from Textiles and Clothing (p 189) showing a 16thC hose pattern from England.


Here is the new toile: 1. front / 2. back seam/ 3. inside / 4. outside/ 5. sole

and the pattern resulting fomr the toile:
Some colours mentioned, in Queen Elizabeth’s Wardrobe Unlock’d, for the stockings themselves include: carnation, ashecolour, yellow, red, blew, tawny, orange, grene, strawe, white, carnation, russet, black, crimson. This was mainly for English stockings. Trimmings mentioned, in Warrant of the Robes, QEWU, included: welted (tops) with vellat, tops stitched with Irish stitch, stitched toppes and clockes, stitched with sondry silk colours, lace of silke, venice gold and venice silver embroidery, red fringe, yellow silke worke, red with red silke worke, red with yellow silke worke, grene with sondry colours.

Eleanor d'Toledo's buraial stockings were of knitted red silk. Colours used for stockings, in the first half of the 16th C (Florence), include: mostly red, white, yellow. They could be embroidered at the top. (Gardaroba : La Mode a Frienze).
Italian Colours (in 1300's) were recorded as scarlet, rose, blue and 'dark'. (p45, Dressing Renaissance Florence) and in 1515, Lorenzo d'Medici ordered turquoise cloth for hose which were to be decorated by a 'gold-beater' with fringing . (p106).

Right shows yellow stockings (possibly lined or with a sock underneath) from a painting by Bernardino Luini, a follower of Leonardo da Vinci, showing pilgrims bathing in stream for healing. 

Many of the descriptions in the Warrant of Robes are not very detailed as to decoration. Queen Elizabeth’s Wardrobe Unlock’d mentions hose “of silk of sondry collors with setting on red sarcenet lyned with red kersey”. Unfortunately there is not much description of the actual patterns of the silke work or embroidery. I have found even less description on Italian stockings of the era. Common English motifs include flowers, fruits (particularly the pomegranite) and fauna. Designs were sometimes influenced by Italian Pattern books.
Stockings were mentioned in Ghostanza Minerbetti's Bridal Trousseau (1511) ( Dressing Renaissance Florence), being 6 embroidered stockings, 2 gold-embroidered stockings (p235) and two pair of stockings 'with the family device' (p237)  

Sewing & Material:
I made them in red linen, as I have problems wearing wool. Again, I was using up material already in my stash, to keep costs down. The material is cut on the bias. This is mentioned in Textiles and clothing, La Mode a Firenze.

The trick to sewing stockings is to be methodical. Otherwise they become bulky at the seams. Firstly I added the 'triangular gussets' at the instep and outside. Then I flat-felled the seams with hand-sewn running stitch. This is mentioned in Textiles and Clothing, Archeological sewing. Next, I sewed the back seam, again finishing off the seams. Finally, I put the sole on - finishing up by flat-felling the seams. Flat-felling is important as it makes the seams flat and not bulky. Otherwise they will be uncomfortable when wearing them.

Here are pics of the final stockings.
1. The stockings in full
2. from the front, the new pattern gives less wrinkles over the front of the ankle.
3. couched gold cord at the top hem
4. the new pattern with triangular gussets.


  • Arnold Janet, Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd, Maney, Leeds, 1988, ISBN:0-901286-20-6
  • Kovesi Killerby, Catherine, Sumptuary Law in Italy 1200-1500, Oxford University Press. NY. 2002. ISBN:0-19-924793-5
  • Crowfoot E, Pritchard F & Staniland K, Textiles and Clothing 1150-1450, Boydell Press, Woodridge, 2001 (ed) ISBN: 0-85115-840-4
  • Frick, Carole Collier. Dressing Renaissance Florence.: Families Fortunes & Clothing. John Hopkins University Press. Baltimore. 2002. ISBN: 0-8018-6939
  • Orsi Landini, Roberta & Niccoli, Bruna. La Moda a Fioenze 1540-1580. Pagliai Polistampa, Firenze, 2005. ISBN: 88-8304-867-9
  • Kohler, Carl, A History of Costume, Dover Publications, NY,1963, ISBN: 486-21030-8
  • Konig, Eberhard, Masters of Italian Art: Carravaggio, Konemann, Cologne, 1998,ISBN: 3-8290-0243-2
  • Fennel Mazzoui, Maureen. The Italian Cotton Industry in the Later Middles Ages 1100-1600, Cambridge University press, 1981. (thanks to Galiana de Baiona).
  • Rutt, Richard. A History of Hand Knitting. Interweave Press. 1987. ISBN: 1-931499-37-3
  • Willet, C. & Cunnington, Phillis, A History of Underclothes, Dover Publications, NY, 1992, ISBN: 0-486-27124-2


  • Diversarum nationum habitus -
  • Archeological Sewing by Heather Rose Jones (2001) (5/04)
  • Caerleon, Megge,Medieval Women’s Hose: (revisited: 22/7/03)
  • Caerleon, Megge, Tempus Peregrinator's Sewing & Garb Accessories Site: Bag Stockings (revisited: 22/7/03)
  • Carlson, Marc Some Clothing of the Middle Ages. (24/5/03)
  • Chausses and Braies: (3/11/02)
  • Historical Shoe designs: Footed hose (14th -16th C):
  • (31/3/98)
  • Kenton, Donna Flood. Hand Knit Hose. 1998:
  • (5/8/00, revisited 22/7/03)
  • McGann, Kass, The Carnamoyle Stockings — Irish Wool Stockings from the 16th Century
  • (24/5/03)
  • Renaissance Tailor: Demonstrations: Stockings: (revisited 23/7/03)

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