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    « Saya Verdugado Kingdom A&S 2010 | Main | 16th century English middle class »

    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

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