16th Century Cranach Princess Dress

I had plans to go to Atlantian 12th Night 2015 and so I spend my entire Christmas vacation working on a dress, two actually. But I finished one. This is my Plan B Dress. I didn’t make a full dress diary for this dress.

The inspiration image is from a 16th century German manuscript. I love the way that this turned out. I never wanted to make a Cranach princess dress because it’s so popular that many people make one. However, since I planned to go to 12th Night and the theme was Venetian Carnivale, I thought it would be better to dress up than wear my usual early 16th century peasant dress.

12th Night Gown 2015

I made sure to say above that I love this dress because I do not want to downplay the success. However, it is the nature of costumers to determine how they can improve. Sometimes you can, sometimes you can’t. I will never be taller, so that’s something that isn’t fixable. How does one deal with being short? Sherlock Holmes says, “Data. Data. Data.” As a costumer, I say, “Proportions, proportions, proportions.”

How is the photo on the left different from the image on the right? Let me help you out. I am much shorter, proportionally, so when I cross my arms over my torso, the lacing is hidden. I’ve included a photo below that shows the lacing. In addition, my neck is shorter, so the collar doesn’t look the same. I’ve cut it down for my frame but even so, the proportions look different. Think of the girl on the right as a fashion model and me on the left as a real-world interpretation. I can conquer the portions of the horizontal striping on the skirt, however I cannot change being short-waisted.

I also think there’s a little Mythbuster-isms going on. What makes the girl’s upper torso all glittery? Is she wearing a ton of necklaces? I think it’s unlikely. Perhaps she is wearing a gold-embroidered shirt, though I’ve never seen one that was completely, solidly embroidered with gold. Is it some sort of cloth of gold partlet? Maybe. Again, I’ve never seen one. I can mark a partlet that’s covered in gold to achieve the look of the image, much like the Mythbusters would do what they could to create a result. Maybe I will but I think it’s likely that the artist was doing some gold doodling to fill in the upper torso for a rich look.

Side View

Side View


Lacing showing. Also a good view of the haub.

The haub (the gold silk headcovering) is made using a pattern and technique created and documented by Genoveva von Lubeck. You can go here to see the instructions: http://germanrenaissance.net/german-goldhaube-cap-of-silk-gold-and-pearls-pattern-instructions-documentation-and-notes/
I made my goldhaube out of some fairly stiff silk, without the pearls. It is self-lined.


Action shot showing the shape of the dress as I adjust my hat.

I still need to curl the ostrich feathers.


Back view.

This shows the rolled pleats. I made this dress was made out of less fabric than it should have been. There should have been at least 6 yards in the skirt to make enough rolled pleats for a 35″ waist. I didn’t have enough fabric so I had to make due. that’s why the pleats appear as rolled at top but they somewhat disintegrate toward the bottom.



The dress took about 60 hours, 30 hours were spent on the sleeves alone. And I would not recommend doing them the way that I did them.


sleeve1 All the materials gathered. At this point you can see I’m down to scraps for the sleeves.


sleeve2 I cut strips to test for the size of the slashes.

sleeve 3 I pinned the sleeve for spacing of the slashes.

sleeve 4 I pinned a strip to the sleeve and then realized I would not have enough fabric to make the slashes using this method so I had to abandon the strips.

sleeve 5 Whole sleeve made from scraps, next to the undersleeve, which I decided to make white.

sleeve 6 Slashing template next to sleeve.

sleeve 7Butcher paper ironed onto the back to give the sleeve body for cutting the slashes.

sleeve 8 Cutting slashes with a rotary cutter.

sleeve 9Sleeve ready to be attached to the under-sleeve.

sleeve 91 Under-sleeve and sleeve.

sleeve 92I pinned on the slashed sleeve to check the spacing. I ended up adding another row of slashing to the bottom to make the sleeve poofier.

The photo that showed the white linen poofs added to the under-sleeve was corrupted so it is not included. This is the point at which I can tell you not to make your sleeves like mine. Sewing down the poofs makes the sleeves to tight when you eventually sew the sleeves together at the long back seam.

sleeve 94This is the sleeve with poof just before I sewed it together.

This is the final sleeve with the cuff attached.

1 Response to 16th Century Cranach Princess Dress

  1. photonicpat says:

    I absolutely love your dress!!!
    Face it, the 16th-century woman in the drawing has NO breasts whatsoever. I have seen a portrait of a Lithuanian woman wearing a late-period dress in which her torso has no neck whatsoever, just straight-line slopes from her jawline to where her shoulders ought to be but aren’t. Neither portrait is literal, in my humble opinion.
    Anyway, I do adore your dress and hope to make one like it someday!

    Lady Patricia of Trakai

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