16th C. Honeycomb Smocked Pleated Hemd

I am in the process of creating a Landsknecht outfit that needs the perfect honeycomb smocked pleated shirt to start the ensemble. This high necked hemd (shirt) design is based on woodcuts from 16th c. Landsknechts ( “Landsknecht Woodcuts: Kriegsvolker im Zeitalter der Landsknechte” and woodcut/drawing examples on my Pinterest board). I used a mix of modern and historical methodologies. 

I started with some washed lightweight 4 oz. Linen and used the rectangle cut patters shown similar to those in tutorials, like Kataflak’s, and discussed in “Patterns in Fashion 4“. However, mine is a slight variation since I had continuous yardage of fabric. It reminds me of cutting out the snowflakes or repeated patterns on a piece of paper. 

Pattern drawing and plan
Hemd pattern drawing and plan.
Fabric with cut pattern
Fabric with cut pattern drawn out in water erasable ink.

Once cut I the fabric, I stitched the seams in the back and roll hemmed the raw edge of the neck and sleeves using the sewing machine. I left the rest unsewn while completing the smocked pleating on the neck and sleeve collars. I used a pleating method and honeycomb smocking technique, as described in my honeycomb smocking demo and apron posts. The honeycomb smocking and pleats stopped short 3/4 inch from the edge to allow the cuff seam and collar opening. 

Marks for pleat running stitch
1/2 cm spaced stich marks for pleat running stitch.
Stitched using linen thread along the honeycomb marks
Stitched using linen thread along the honeycomb marks.

I then finished sewing the shirts seams and gussets with the machine, leaving the points of the gussetsOnce cut I the fabric, I stitched the seams in the back and roll hemmed the raw edge of the neck and sleeves using the sewing machine. I left the rest unsewn while completing the smocked pleating on the neck and sleeve collars. I used a pleating method and honeycomb smocking technique, as described in my honeycomb smocking demo and apron posts. The honeycomb smocking and pleats stopped short 3/4 inch from the edge to allow the cuff seam and collar opening. 

I hand stitched the edge of the cuffs and collar seams, double folding the raw 3/4 inch edge, finishing the edges under of the linen tape. Using a pin prick running stitch I flat felled the seams and the gussets (enforcing the points). Then I added hooks and eyes for closures. For an extra touch I added a finger braided cord using white cotton embroidered thread sewn through the collar and doubled up.

Front view of hemd before linen tape backing
Picture after the smocked pleats and shirt is sewn, adjusting the pleats to add the linen tape.
Old hooks and eyes
Some very old hooks and eyes I had for closures.
Close up of collar and cuff
Close up of the collar and cuff.
Close up of back of collar
Back of the hemd collar.
Close up of hemd collar
Hooks and eye closure with cording on hemd.
Finished hemd
Finished hemd.

I had not created a shirt in this exact style before, and the client did not want it to be an exaggerated puffy fit. It was a bit leaner of a cut than I would recommend. I had to use odd-shaped gussets (diamond-like) in the sleeve to ensure fit. If I make another for someone not as concerned with the puffy, I will use a lot more fabric and use a historically documented gusset shape. Additionally, I will not leave so much edge in the collar and cuff. With the remaining fabric, I made another in child-size version

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