How to Measure for 11th to 15th Century Hosen and Make a Pattern

Making a Basic Pattern from Measurement

A: Measure around the thickest part of your upper thigh

B: Measure around the thickest part of your calf

C: Measure around your ankle

      • When working with wool your can fit the ankle exactly because the wool will stretch
      • When Working with linen measure around the ankle and heel of the foot in order to make the ankle big enough for your foot to pass through, linen does not stretch like wool

D: Measure around the thickest part of your foot.

E: Measure from just below the buttocks to the thick part of your calf. Make sure the tape measure is against your leg the whole time going over the legs curves. If you do not follow the curves of the leg your hose will end up too short.

F: Measure from the thick part of your calf to your ankle. Make sure the tape measure is against your leg the whole time going over the legs curves. If you do not follow the curves of the leg your hose will end up too short.

G: Measure from your ankle to the arch of your foot. Historical hosen did not have separate foot bottoms like modern pajamas, the seam will run directly under the foot.

Pattern making notes:

  • Historical examples do not follow the curve of the back side of the knee. Patterns go straight up from the calf to the thigh. I have tried to curve the hose for a better form fit at the knee in the past but you cannot sit well in the hose, especially later joined hose, with the form fit like that.

  • You will need seam allowance added to your pattern; I use a half inch seam when I sew so I add one inch to each measurement

Notes

The basic leg shape of hosen does not change over time; the major changes are in the patterns for the foot and in the late 14th century the hose can start to cover the butt. In the 15th century a cod is added and the hosen cover from the true waste to the foot.

Notes from my documentation on 11th century hosen as found in this PDF.

•  Extant hose believed to be Saint Germain's from Switzerland dating to the 7 th century CE. They are naalbound wool stockings with a draw string built into the top of them which is likely how they were held up though the draw string is long and they may have been tied up.

•  The hose of Pope Clemens II made of a patterned silk are dated to the 11 th century CE. There construction is just like that of a London find from the 14 th century CE . Pope Clemens II hose have a draw string built into the top of them which is likely how they were held up though the draw string is long and they may have been tied up.

•  In Ewart Oakeshott's book :Records of the Medieval Sword” he has a translated 11 th century will of Norman origins where a man leaves his eldest son his land, money, sword, and linen hosen showing that line was used for hose at this time period.

•  The Bremen grave #19 dated to the 12 th century CE. Ecclesiastical in nature these hosen have a tapering tube shape as the majority of hosen finds from the late Roman era on do. This pair is made of wool. (pattern 2 nd image on the right)

Notes from my documentation on 15th century joined hosen found in this PDF.

Joined hose seem commonly depicted by the 1450s with a few notable exceptions like the Rogier van der Weyden's St John Altarpiece. Joined hose have a cod flap to cover the groin and are pointed to the doublet to stay up.

Extant hosen from Germany early 16th century

There are two pairs of extant hosen from 1490 to 1510 left to us. One pair is wool (pattern pictured right) and another pair is made of linen. Both are built in a similar shape which I suspect is the same as earlier joined hose except late hose have a codpieces instead of a flap like is depicted in the art of the 15 th century until the 1490s. The pair pictured right have a foot piece that wraps under the foot meaning there is not a separate sole design.

Observations of Construction:

 

  • Rogier van der Weyden's St John AltarpieceThe shape of the leg in extant hose from 1200 to 1600 does not change. The only change to the pattern is the addition of material to cover over the butt, hips, and groin.
  • Extant hose are not cut with rounded curve at the calf and back of the knee like many modern people cut them; they have two straight lines for the thickness of the legs. The first is from the ankle to the widest point of the calf and the second is from the calf to the widest point of the thigh. It is also important to note that when creating a pattern (like below) when you measure the distance between these points you must go along the curve of the body or your hose will be short.
  • Foot designs used in the 14 th century are also used in the 16 th century so I feel sure that any of those designs will work with 15 th century hosen.
  • Some images depict men with now shoes on with their hosen which means some hose may have leather bottoms which would also indicate the pattern can have a separate sole instead of a wrap around piece as you see in the pattern above and in the drawing of how I make my hosen below. There are extant examples of 16 th century hosen with separate soles.
  • There are three seam lines in most depictions of hosen, the center of the butt and the middle of both legs, this indicates that the legs and but area are incorporated into one piece of material like my pattern below.
  • The majority of extant hosen are cut on the bias
  • Twill fabrics are used the most for hosen; I believe twill is used to give more stretch to the garment that is more form fitting.
  • In Rogier van der Weyden's St John Altarpiece the executioner has his split hosen rolled down and you can see there is a white, likely linen, waist band where the points are. Likely linen is used to prevent stretching at the waist so the hose will not pull down over the hips easily and to reinforce the eyelets for the points to make them stronger.

 

My Reconstruction

Seam stitching

My hose are made of thick twill wool to give plenty of stretch when I sit down. Notice that my pattern is like the hosen of the 14 th century in it's leg shape and how similar the 1490-1510 pattern above is to mine; I have been working with my own pattern for five years now and only found these extant patterns in the last two.

 

  • The cod is made of two pieces cut like you see below, the seam in the center in the curved part of the pattern, it creates a bulge for the area it is covering.
  • I used the foot pattern from the late 14 th century London hose find. It is a simple piece of wool that wraps the foot and has a seam under the foot. The seams under the foot is not a tradition seam like in figure A (right) it is like figure B (right) where the material is overlapped and whip stitched on both raw ends which is common among extant hosen. It is a much more comfortable seam to step on. This will only work with fulled wool, worsted would have to be finished.
  • A linen band is added to the waist to prevent the wool from stretching when worn and to strengthen the eyelets
  • My eyelets and visible seams are all hand sewn with waxed linen thread

My Pattern:

My pattern for 15th century hosen

 

Extant Examples:

These examples are from Marc Carlson's website and his sourse are listed if you want to trac them down.

Early 13th century: http://www.personal.utulsa.edu/~marc-carlson/cloth/bremen2.html

Middle to late 14th century in London: http://www.personal.utulsa.edu/~marc-carlson/cloth/london.html

Bogman hose; middle 14th century: http://www.personal.utulsa.edu/~marc-carlson/cloth/bockhose.html

Middle 14th century Herjolfsnes no.88: http://www.personal.utulsa.edu/~marc-carlson/cloth/herjol88.html