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Red Wool Trossfrau / Kampfrau Dress

In the winter of 2018, I made a wool trossfrau dress, based on woodcuts from 1520-1530s ( “Landsknecht Woodcuts: Kriegsvolker im Zeitalter der Landsknechte” and woodcut/drawing examples on my Pinterest board). In 2019, I reworked the slashed sections of the bodice, and I plan to add a slashed section eventually to the skirt. 

I used some wool from B.Black & Sons, it is maybe a little on the heavy side, but it sewed like a dream and washed nicely. I used a sewing machine to sew the seams. However, any topstitching or other outer facing stitches are all done by hand. I lined the bodice with heavyweight linen and some fusible interfacing to firm up the shape. I am a little on the large side and choose not to shape to contour over the chest. Instead, I used a straight closure line and added a little steel boning. I used an existing dress I had on hand to mock up the bodice. I attached the skirt to the linen and interfacing layer underneath the wool. I created a channel for some steel bone along the front seam and used hooks and eyes down the front for the closure. 

Attaching the skirt folded in knife pleats to the lining.
Securing the wool layer down over the lining and pleated skirt.
Folding the wool back over the lining and skirt folds.

The black wool was slashed using a rotary tool, hand-stitched the slash edges, and lined with white linen. There is a tutorial on Whilja’s Corner showing the method I used for slashing. The trim was then hand-stitched to the bodice. I went with smaller strips of fabric, alternating black and white to attach the sleeve. On the half sleeve, I created the X slashes allowing the undershirt to peak through.

First draft of black wool slashed trim lined with white linen.
Close up of sleeve with alternating strips of black and red.
Two black wool strips in the skirt.

The overall dress came out to look pretty good; all be it a little hot. I did end up redoing the slash trim on the body for mitered corners. I also plan to eventually add a panel with X slashes in the skirt, like the Mini Trossfrau dress of the same color. There are several lessons learned that I will incorporate on the next trossfrau dress version. 

Sleeve slashes in German X pattern
Re-do of the slashed bodice trim, I created mitered corners
Overall view of the gown
Picture of the dress in action
Red wool Trossfrau dress


The wulsthaube give the shape to a headdress popular in German region costume from the around 1490-1550. The wulsthaube has a round padded area at the back of the head under a wrapped veil (Steuchleins). Early versions appear to have been a separate padded roll (wulst) (Nutz, Nets – Knots – Lace: Early 16th century headdresses from East Tyrol, 2019). However, later clothing inventories describe it as a coif/cap (haube) with padding at the back of the head (Zander-Seidel, Textiler Hausrat: Kleidung und Haustextilien in Nurnberg von 1500-1650, 1990). There is an excellent tutorial by The Curious Frau – Making a Wulsthaube: The Wulst and Haube on YouTube.

This wulsthaube is my first draft, and I used modern techniques. I will be experimenting with the shape and researching this further. I folded and sewed a rectangular piece of linen along one end, creating a crescent-shaped graded channel to fill with stuffing. On the other side of the long side of the rectangle, I folded the doubled the edge over 2 inches creating a hem. I made long strips of double folded linen and stitched the edge to create the strings to secure the headdress; These were attached long either short end of the rectangle.

Additionally, I created tellerbarret style hat using black wool felt blank, with addition black wool for the top, and white linen lining. I slashed the hat’s crown using the above technique and attached the round top of the crown to the brim. I slit and overlapped the brim to add some shape. Then hand-stitched each feather to the articulation edge of the brim and top of the hat.

Top view of the hat.
Front view of the hat.
Side view showing padded roll and from border.
Back view of wulsthaube.

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