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    Saya Verdugado Kingdom A&S 2010

    Saya Verdugada


    Figure of Salome

    Detail from Banquet of Herod, Pedro Garcia Benabarre. ca. 1480.


    Reference Images

     Detail from Birth of the Virgin, Pedro Garcia Benabarre. ca. 1480.



    Figure of Salome

    Detail from The Beheading of St. John the Baptist, Hispano-Flemish School. ca. 1500.


    Figure of Reason or Truth

    Detail from Vision Delectable, Alfonso de la Torre. 1477.



    Figure of Grammar

    Detail from Vision Delectable, Alfonso de la Torre. 1477.


    Figure of Isabel I of Castile y Aragon
    Detail from Surrender of Moclín, Master Rodrigo. ca. 1490.


    Historical information


    According to "concrete gossip" recorded by Palencia (a contemporary historian), the verdugo was invented by Juana of Portugal in the 1460s or 70s to conceal the "aftermath of an indiscretion"(Anderson 208). It was adopted by the women of her court, and then by other noble women. In 1473, Isabel I was depicted wearing "a brial of crimson velvet bearing hoops covered with green cebti (silk). . . cloth-of-gold hoops stiffened another brial of hers" (Anderson 208).

    Ruth Anderson discusses skirt and gowns with hoops in her Hispanic Costume 1480-1530. Anderson refers to brial (full, unfitted dresses), or saya (dresses with a fitted bodice and full skirt attached at waistline) with hoops (verdugos) of twigs or willow withies inserted into strips of cloth or trim on the exterior of the skirt. These skirts were intended to be seen, as in the images above; later, they evolved into an undergarment that was initially seen but later became purely a foundation garment (207).

    Another contemporary historian, Talavera, describes the skirt arrangement in detail. "[Talavera] speaks of woolen cloth being packed about the hips, which were thus overheated, while below, about the legs, the hoops stood out, making a hollow space that admitted winter cold" (qtd. in Anderson 208).

    Recorded fabrics used for saya verdugadas (Anderson 208-9):

    1. Cebti (silk), verdugos in crimson, green, white, brown, orange, blue, or silvered silk  
    2. Velvet verdugos on cebti, brocaded satin, cloth of silver 
    3. White damask or satin verdugos on crimson or green velvet, mulberry velvet, mulberry brocade, and crimson brocaded velvet 
    4.  Same colored taffeta verdugos on taffeta skirt 
    5. Same-coloured velvet verdugos on satin or damask 
    6. Blue velvet verdugos on blue damask half-hooped skirt (media verdugada) 
    7. Brown velvet verdugos on brown satin media verdugada



    Construction Notes


    I chose to model my gown on the cover image, The Banquet of Herod by Pedro Garcia Benabarre. This gown features several characteristics of classic Hispano-Flemish style: the low round neckline, fitted bodice, waist seam, split-and-tied sleeves, and a skirt with exterior hoops. The large constructive seams were done on the sewing machine, while finer details and finishing work was sewn by hand.

    For the fabric, I chose a cotton damask brocade rather than the more period-correct silk brocade or taffeta. Although the fabric content is not strictly correct, there is evidence of the use of cotton in upper-class clothing in Spain by the early 13th century (Anderson). I picked a fabric with a large, organic brocade pattern similar to those seen in the Benabarre and Hispano-Flemish School images of Salome. The fabric itself is a gold-on-color pattern; the Spanish seem to be particularly fond of gold mixed with any other color.

    For the hoop casings, I decided to use rayon velvet ribbon rather than strips of velvet fabric cut on the bias or the straight. While rayon velvet ribbon is not generally cheaper than silk velvet fabric, the tightly woven structure of ribbon makes it less aggravating to work with and less prone to tearing. Despite this, there is a noticeable patch at the rear seam where the ribbon shredded during hoop insertion and had to be mended.

    The bodice of the gown was drafted to my own measurements and then draped to fit, first on a dressmaker’s dummy and then on my own body. It is lined with medium weight black linen and sewn with black silk thread.

    The sleeves were created from a standard two-piece sleeve pattern I usually use for kirtles. I stitched down the inside seam, and then finished the outer seam so that the seam lies open along the back of the arm. The sleeve ties into the armscye through eyelets, and the open seam fastens with five ties on each side, allowing the shift sleeve to drape through the openings.

    The skirt is a simple angled tube of two full widths of fabric plus side gores. It is pleated into the bodice at the natural waist, and five hoop casings are applied to the exterior of the skirt. The back seam has not been finished to allow for future adjustments of the shape—I feel that the current shape is slightly too wide at the top to create exactly the proper shape, and I plan to remove a wedge of fabric from the first hoop to the waist to create more of a cone shape. The skirt is hemmed even with the bottom-most hoop, as shown in the reference images.

    The citation from Talavera regarding the wool material “packed about the hips” (qtd. in Anderson 208) can be interpreted as padded pleats or some sort of foundation item that is stuffed with wool, creating the unusual “puffy” silhouette at the top of the skirts in images. I attempted padded pleats, but did not achieve the rounded fullness seen in the images; it is therefore my theory that a stuffed roll of some sort was tied about the body under the skirts. This may have been stuffed with wool fluff or scraps of wool fabric, as in Talavera’s account of these underpinnings. I believe that a large bumroll like those found in later English fashions may give the same shape. For display, the dressmaker’s dummy has been padded with a roll of heavy cotton quilt padding to approximate the look of a stuffed roll.



    photograph by Jen Thies


    Works Cited


    Anderson, Ruth M. Hispanic Costume, 1480-1530. New York: Hispanic Society of America, 1979. Print.

    Benabarre, Pedro García. Birth of the Virgin. c. 1480. Ainsa Parish Church, Spain.

    Hispano-Flemish School. The Beheading of St. John the Baptist. c. 1500. Museo del Prado, Spain.

    Master Rodrigo. Surrender of Moclín. c. 1475. Toledo Cathedral, Spain.

    Palencia, Alfonso Fernández de. Uniuersal vocabulario en latin y en Romance. 1490. Apud Hispalim.

    Talavera. Tractado pvechoso q demuestra como en’l uestir y calçar comũmete se comete muchos peccados.1477.  Monastery of El Escorial, Spain. 

    Torre, Alfonso de la. Vision Delectable. 1477. Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.




    1502 Spanish gonete

    This past Saturday was Atlantia's annual Holiday Faire, which coincided with the start of my school's Thanksgiving break. I woke up on Friday morning in the mood to make something. I knew it would need to be warm, since the temps on site were predicted to be around 50 and windy, and I wanted it to be something I haven't made yet.

    Originally, I was planning to make a black wool gabardine kirtle, and then I reality-checked myself. No way I can cut, sew, finish, and trim a kirtle to my own standards in 14 hours. I decided that it was time to finally tackle a project I have been studying for a couple of years but have not yet created: a gonete.

    Here is a bit of garment description from my class handout on Spanish jackets (available in the Documentation and Handouts section):


    Some vocabulary

     Carmen Bernis, the formidable Spanish clothing historian, refers to pretty much every short jackety Spanish thing as a gonete.  Ruth Anderson, on the other hand, divides the class of jackety-things into more specific subgroups , the names of which may or may not reflect what the actual people wearing them would have called them. Anderson refers to:

    Cos: “Waist”. A short, fitted jacket with a short peplum or skirts.

    Corpecico: another short waist. The word probably comes from the Spanish “corpino”, or body.

    Gonete: a fitted waist with a peplum

    Saino/sayno/sayuelo:  a waist with a long, knee-length peplum

    Although Anderson subdivides the garments, the names she uses seem to be used almost interchangeably in the various wardrobe accounts.  It’s likely that the different words were regional terms, or that they were similar in the way that the words “dress”, “frock” and “gown” are similar (perhaps they all mean “that little jackety thing the Queen wears over her gowns”).

    Just to keep some consistency, I tend to default to Carmen Bernis and call all of these things a gonete.

    A description

    Gonetes tend to be fairly fitted throughout the torso, with fitted sleeves and square necklines. They appear to open down the center front and may be fastened with pins or hidden hooks. None of the images appear to have lacing rings or eyelets. They all seem to be worn either with a separate petticoat in a matching or complementary colour, or over the fitted gowns common at the time. There is no noticeable class distinction; gonetes are found both in paintings of household attendants and in the wardrobe accounts of Queens.

    Common fabrics included velvet,  cebtí  and ceti (silks), brocade, wool, satin, taffeta, and linen. They’re found in a huge variety of colors and decoration styles.  Isabella’s wardrobe accounts list 44 black velvet and 25 crimson cebtí gonetes. Cebtí  was her favorite fabric (66 garments) followed closely by velvet (61), satin (39), brocade (21), and wool (1). She shows a definite preference for black (80 garments) and crimson (57), but she also owned gonetes in mulberry, green, white, brown, tawny, and blue.

    There is also a wealth of information on embellishment of these garments. The Spanish were, by contemporary accounts, extremely fond of using huge quantities of gold and lavish embroidery. Some examples from Anderson:

    “A cos of tawny ceti was embroidered with points, with “Ps” (for Phelipe) [ed. Note Phillip the Handsome, husband of Queen Juana], and with leaves of gold.”

    “839 little shells stamped from hammered gold for a cos of black velvet lined with Holland [fine linen]”

    “A waist of rose brocade, figured in darker rose…the peplum…carries a narrow border of white picked out with black (Arabic letters?) and hung with gold tassels.”

    Inspiration Image

    Because I was putting this together rather faster than I tend to build garments, I chose a source image that has a somewhat simplified silhouette. Juan Gasco's Saint from 1502 has the short of body outline I wanted: 

    This gonete has the characteristic fitted body and square neckline, but there are some notable differences between this and earlier garments. The garment appears to have no waist seam; you can see the fabric pulling just below the breasts, which may indicate that no additional fabric was added at the side seams to give more shaping. Another difference is the sleeves; whereas earlier gonete tended to have tight sleeves to the wrist or elbow, this garment has wider sleeves that are most likely longer than the wearer’s arm.

    However, I only had 2.5 yards of the fabric I wanted to use - a thick, fluffy fulled wool that I overdyed with cochineal last summer. The fabric was originally intended for a Rev War jacket, but I could never find just the right pattern. It's perfect for a gonete, but there's no way I could get those full sleeves out of what yardage I had. So I decided to go with a straight style sleeve:


    This is an image of a Basque woman from an anonymous French manuscript of the 16th century. In it, she is wearing a short jacket that looks very much like some other styles of gonete, with straight sleeves slit at the back seam. It also looks like the sleeves are slightly twisted, which suggested to me that they may be pleated or gathered at the top of the back armscye, causing the fabric to distort off grain as it pulls across the upper arm.


    Making the Jacket

    I whipped out a pattern fairly quickly, and was somwhat surprised that it worked off the bat. The front was a bit long, so I trimmed it back and angled it from the side-back seams to the front opening.

    The pattern has a high, square back neckline, high armscyes, narrow shoulder straps, a moderately low square front neckline, and side back seams. The sleeves are basically straight tubes, curved at the sleeve cap, with an extremely large triangular gore set in under the arm to provide the necessary bicep room. 

    The sleeves are set in straight along the front armscye and halfway up the back armscye. From that point to the shoulder seam, the sleeves are gathered into small cartridge pleats which were first whipped to the sleeve opening and then stitched down to the shoulder seam. The cartridge pleats were still really puffy at that point, so I ran five lines of stitching through the pleats parallel to the sleeve opening, to tuck the pleats close together as well as flatten them for about an inch.

    The neckline, front edges, and bottom hem of the jacket are bound with a strip of black wool gabardine, about 2 inches wide, cut on the straight grain from the selvedge of the yardage. I stitched the selvedge edge to the front and then wrapped the rest over the edge, folded the raw edge under, and whip stitched the fold to the inside of the jacket. The resulting four layers of gabardine around one layer of fulled wool makes the closing edges stiff enough to not buckle when closed.

    The Final Product



    Photos by Sam Van Rens


    16th century English middle class

    This is a velvet doublet and silk skirt combination I originally made for Atlantian Twelfth Night; instead, it debuted at Tir-y-don’s Baronial Investiture in March 2007.

    The Doublet

    The doublet is cut using Master Jose de Madrid’s system of thirds, a method of drafting Spanish-style doublets with not maths required. I did as I usually do, and drafted the pattern from my measurements onto muslin. A large portion of time was spent tweaking the fit, altering the curve of the back, and raising the waistline (I always cut the waist too low).

    Once a good fit was achieved, I cut the layers of the doublet: one layer of black 100% linen lining, one layer of cotton canvas interlining, and one layer of black velvet fashion fabric. I also cut lightweight shirt flannel to pad the chest, upper back/shoulder, and the collar. This provides a bit more structure to the finished garment, and helps achieve the characteristic swept-back collar of the doublet.

    With waxed linen thread and a fairly heavy needle, I pad stitched the flannel to the interlining fabric. The stitches do not need to be perfect; the point is to attach the flannel to the interlining in such a way that it does not shift around later. You do want to make sure that the knots, if you use any, are buried in the nap of the flannel or else you will be able to feel them through the lining fabric.

    After finishing the pad stitched, I pinned together and handstitched the body interlining and lining fabric together (step one of flatlining). At this point, I tried the whole piece on to recheck the fit; I ended up taking in the lower back curve another .25 of an inch as a result.

    Here, I had to take a break and attach the rows of braid to the velvet pieces. I used waxed black silk thread in a very fine gauge so the stitches do not show on casual inspection. I arranged the strips of braid-and-velvet trim in diagonal rows slanting up from the center front to the side/shoulder seams, and placed them approximately 1 inch apart. The raw ends were treated with FrayChek until the final binding could be added.

    Turned the interlining/lining piece so that the interlining was sandwiched between the lining and the exterior, and whipstitched the open edges (front, collar, bottom). I then attached the sleeve lining (no interlining) at the cuffs, turned, and whipstitched the raw edges inside along the armscye.

    To cover the raw edges and create a finished look, I bound all the edging with black bias fabric. However, I skipped the bottom edge; instead of binding, I cut and attached a three piece skirt of black velvet lined with black linen and bound with bias strips.  Once the construction of those pieces was complete, I whipstitched the skirt pieces to the raw lower body edge with black silk thread.

    To finish, I attached 18 pairs of black hook and eyes (store purchased) to  close the front.

    The Petticoat

    The other half of the garment is a simple rectangular skirt cartridge pleated into a waistband. The skirt and guard is made of a low-slub silk dupioni; the skirt is olive green, and the guard is mandarin orange. I made the waistband to my waist measurement plus two inches for hemming and fastening, then evenly cartridge pleated the skirt fabric to the waistband. It is fastened with two skirt hook and eye sets.


    16th c. Spanish Working class


    Images of middle and working class Spanish women are difficult to acquire, primarily because most existing artwork has not been made available to the international public in digital format. Also, due to historic political involvements and because the bulk of Spanish images of the period are portraits of nobles dressed in garments similar to those worn in the English court under Elizabeth I, it is also commonly assumed that 16th Spanish clothing was identical to English, Dutch, or Flemish. However, Carmen Bernis’ El traje y los tipos socials en el Quijote provides an extensive visual overview of Spanish fashion among the working class.

    I will note that the bulk of the images in Bernis’ book date from the first decade of the 17th century rather than from the 16th century; however, given what textile and costume historians know about the rate of clothing evolution the lower classes, it is reasonable to assume that a delay of 5-15 years does not negate the value of these images in recreating late 16th century garments.

    I chose to model my garment after this image, republished in Bernis:


    La Virgen de Monserrat con San Juan Bautista y Santa Margarita. Detail. Barcelona, Museo Frederic Mares.

    Although the combination at first glance looks somewhat like English or Flemish clothing of the period, there are several notable differences that characterize Spanish working class garments. First, the neckline is higher and wider than many English styles, with a distinct square cut falling just below the collarbones and extremely narrow straps. Second, the bodice and skirt are probably separate unlike most other working and middle class European outfits of the same period. Finally, the bodies appears to be supportive, yet there is neither an indication that a supportive set of stays is worn beneath nor the rigid, flattened silhouette that one would expect from a set of bodies or stays in the English style.


    Jael y Sisara. Antonio de Pereda. Dublin, National Gallery of Ireland.

    This image shows the same characteristics enumerated in the previous example: extremely narrow straps, higher square neckline, and a separate bodice and skirt that does not in this case match in fabric. Also, the open front of the bodice and the deep wrinkling under the bustline suggests that rigid boning was not used.

    For my own garment, I created a separate bodice and skirt of dark green linen trimmed with black. I built an inner support of 45# hemp cording sandwiched between two layers of cotton/linen blend (for stability) using the cording directions found in Jen Thompson’s  article on boning wit hhemp cording. The cording channels are spaces approximately .25” apart, and are placed over the entire inner layer. This supportive interlining was then tacked to a lining of white linen; the layers were thus treated as a single layer.

    The green linen outer layer was laid over the supportive lining, stretched, and sewn down firmly. By stretching the fabric, I hope to eliminate future sagging. Once the layers were sewn together by hand, I applied strips of black linen to mimic the trim pattern in the original image. Finally, based on the image of Jael y Sisara, I chose to make the bodice close with lacing rings. Since there are no images of what the garment looks like from the back, but all of the garments appear to not be front-closing, I decided to make the bodice close along the center back.

    The ensemble is worn with a white linen shift fashioned after Jen Thompson’s “Easy Italian Chemise” with approximately 10 inches removed from the arm length to better recreate the moderately full sleeves in the original image. This pattern also creates a higher, banded neckline into which the body of the shift is gathered; this shift style is common in working class images.  

    Accessories for this outfit include a short strand of pearl or imitation coral beads, soft leather or cloth slippers, and a linen shawl that is draped around the shoulders and tucked into the neckline of the bodice. This shawl can be seen in several images:


    La cena en Emaus. 1612/20. Pedro Orrente. Budapest, Szepmuveszeti Muzeum.


    Abraham envia a Eliazar a buscar esposa para Isaac. Detail. Pedro Orrente. Segovia, private collection.



    Bernis, Carmen. El traje y los tipos sociales en el Quijote. Madrid: Ediciones el Viso, 2001.

    La Virgen de Monserrat con San Juan Bautista y Santa Margarita. Barcelona, Museo Frederic Mares. Reprinted in Bernis.

    Orrente, Pedro. Abraham envia a Eliazar a buscar esposa para Isaac. Segovia, private collection. 1612/20. Reprinted in Bernis.

    --. La cena en Emaus. Budapest, Szepmuveszeti Muzeum. 1612/20. Reprinted in Bernis.

    Pereda, Antonio de. Jael y Sisara. 1612. Dublin; National Gallery of Ireland.  Reprinted in Bernis.

    Thompson, Jen. “Boning with hemp cording.” .

    --. “How to make an easy Italian chemise.” .


    Special thanks to Dona Violante de Sant Sebastian for her help with fitting and translation.







     The rostro, or face mask, was a common item of travel clothing for the 16th century Spanish lady. It was used to protect the face from dirt and sun, as well as to protect the identity of the wearer. The rostro was commonly constructed of silk taffeta or velvet lined with leather, with two "apertures for the eyes (Bernis 55)."  According to Carmen Bernis, rostro were mentioned in the inventory of the fabric merchant Simon Ruiz (1597); specifically, there is listed "a rostro of taffeta, of the road” (Bernis 55).  A possible example of this item is shown in Bertelli's engraving of a woman wearing "a capotillo [and] a mask that simulates the form of the nose and mouth, which justifies the name 'rostro' that it is given” (Bernis 55).


     Bertelli, Pietro. Diversarum nationen habitus. Venecia, 1594.


    The rostro is also seen in Hans van der Becken's panoramic painting of the procession of Empress Maria. In this image, the young women of the procession are wearing a black rostro like the one in the Bertelli engraving:


    Beken, Hans van der. Viaje de la emperatriz Maria desde Praga, 1601.



    The methods I used to construct my rostro were based heavily on the research presented by Mistress Belphoebe de Givet in her article "A 16th Century 'Visard' Mask."

    I chose to build my rostro on a base of buckram covered with silk taffeta and lined with perfumed leather. Although cardboard is also mentioned as a possible stiffening base (Bernis 54), buckram seemed to be a better choice for a lightweight item that would have been worn for lengthy periods. Silk taffeta was specifically mentioned in the Ruiz inventories; using Hans van der Beken's painting as an example of typical travel attire, I chose to use black taffeta. I also chose to line the mask with a thin goatskin perfumed with rose oil; although this is not specifically mentioned in my sources, I have come across the use of perfumed leather in Spanish glovemaking.


    Buckram base

     I first wet the buckram and stretched it over a Styrofoam wig form to dry into shape. Once the buckram form was dry, I used a rabbit skin glue to attach the outer layer of taffeta to the buckram form.

     While the glue was drying, I placed a piece of 1.5 oz. goatskin in a bowl of water mixed with .5 oz of rose otto oil and let it soak for 6 hours. I then removed the leather and laid it flat to dry to prepare it to be attached to the interior of the mask.

     After allowing the taffeta layer to dry for 48 hours, I peeled the mask off the head form, pinned the square of goatskin leather, smooth side down, on the form. I applied a layer of rabbit skin glue, then pinned the buckram and taffeta shell over the leather and let it dry.

    Once the rostro was dry, I placed the mask over my own face to mark the position of the eyes. The Beken painting I used did not seem to show any apertures for the eyes, nor was such an opening mentioned in Bernis; however, I opted to assume that the wearer was intended to see, and cut two oval openings like the ones pictured in the Bertelli engraving at the beginning of this article.

    I opted to stitch a wooden bead inside the mask rather than cutting an opening for the mouth. I based this on Mistress Belphoebe’s analysis of the mask belonging to the Lady Clapham doll in the Victoria and Albert Museum of London.



    Rabbit skin glue is remarkably strong and fast-bonding, allowing little time to reposition items if they are misaligned. This led to some accumulated slippage that makes the final product look off center. Next time, more pins.

    Rose water has quite a strong odor, and was possibly not the best choice for the interior of the mask.




    Beken, Hans van der. Viaje de la emperatriz Maria desde Praga, 1601. Madrid: Patrimonio Nacional, monasterio de las Descalzas Reales.

    Bernis, Carmen. El traje y los tipos sociales en el Quijote. Madrid: Ediciones el Viso, 2001.

    Bertelli, Pietro. Diversarum nationen habitus. Venecia, 1594.

    Givet, Belphoebe de. "A 16th Century 'Visard' Mask." Accessed online February 2009.