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Vasquina y Cuerpo Baxo de Raxa Para Muger

I made this dress according to the pattern for a "Vasquina y cuerpo baxo de raxa para muger" by Juan de Alcega as reproduced in "The Tailor's Pattern Book" (f.60).  The name of this pattern has been translated by Jean Pain and Cecilia Bedford as a "Kirtle and low-cut bodice of cloth rash for a woman" (page 45).  Juan de Alcega was creating patterns for fashions which would have been current in 1589, but kirtles were also worn earlier in the Elizabethan period.

An existing kirtle as shown in Patterns of Fashion, figure 311, has a high neckline and no waist seam, but Janet Arnold mentions that kirtles made for Queen Elizabeth had fitted bodices with a waist seam (Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd, page 120).  In figure 183, dated to 1565, on page 121 of Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd, Mildred Cooke, Lady Burghley wears a kirtle with a square neckline under an open gown.

The pattern given by Juan de Alcega consists of front and back skirt pieces and front and back bodice pieces.  The bodice pieces have a very low neckline with very narrow straps, almost like spaghetti straps.  The front waistine comes to a very deep point.  I have adapted the bodice pattern to a style which I think is more consistent with what would have been worn twenty years earlier, in 1570.  I based my adaption on the pattern of the dress (page 104) worn by Eleanora of Toledo in Patterns of Fashion, dated to about 1562 

I cut this dress out according to the layout given by Juan de Alcega, one of several different layouts for vasquinas y cuerpos baxas.  I chose this one because of the amount of fabric I had available to me.  The skirt turned out very narrow, and I think next time I will try to use a wider fabric, or will try one of the other layouts.  I edged the neckline and armholes of this dress with bias tape, which is a finishing technique also found on the kirtle in Patterns of Fashion (page 110).


f60 pages 44, 109-110
page 104 figure 183


Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd, Janet Arnold. W. S. Maney & Son, Leeds, 1988.

Patterns of Fashion: The cut and construction of clothes for men and women c1560-1620, Janet Arnold. Macmillan Publishers Ltd., London, 1985.

The Tailor's Pattern Book. Ruth Bean., Carlton Bedford, 1979. Facsimile of Libro de Geometria, Pratica, y Traca, Juan de Alcega, 1589, with introduction and notes by J.L. Nevinson. Jean Pain and Cecilia Bainton, trans.

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