1520s German Pink Wool Rock

An early 16th century German middle class gown with narrow sleeves, typical of the well-off Burgher wife.

I was so pleased with my green wool Rock, I decided to make another in similar style, but with slim sleeves. Originally I made this with black guards, but I changed my mind after construction – the red is better.

Wool mix, canvas, twill tape, cotton velveteen, linen lining, brass hooks & eyes

Research and Design

The main inspiration for this Rock was a painting by Hans Plattner – Dyptich of Hans and Barbara Straub. The combination of pink/red wool and red velvet is common in early 16th century German women’s clothing for both the middle and upper classes.

The simple slim sleeves with a slight bell cuff are typical of the style, as is the use of velvet guards on bodice and sleeves. There are many examples of this style, including this painting by Peter Gertner, and the woodcut by Georg Erlinger, which also shows the rounded back neckline.

I designed the centre front so that it opened slightly at the top – open fronts were another variant on this style in the early 16th century, as can be seen in this portrait by Ulrich Apt.


Since this would be worn over the same Unterrock, I adapted the pattern of my Green Wool, changing the neckline and drafting a new slim sleeve.

I dyed some more of the cheap fawn wool mix fabric to a lovely dull pink using food colour. I don’t think of myself as a ‘pink’ person, but I was very pleased with the result.

I constructed the bodice in the same way as my Green wool gown, making up the canvas, basting the wool on constructing the bodice and adding the completed sleeves. Originally I planned it with black guards, as you can see here. I pinned and basted the guards, catch-stitched them to the lining, ready to sew down to the wool.

At this point, I tried on the bodice to check that the guards would lie smoothly when worn – and discovered I had made the sleeves just a little too tight. I had been ignoring my growing suspicions – foolish me. They looked OK, but did not feel right and I knew they would annoy me.

Not enough of the pink wool to cut another pair of sleeves, so off to wash and dye another length of fabric to match! Then unpick the sleeves, make a new pair and set them in. Recycle the lining, piecing in extra linen and line them. Sew down the guards. Then I can finally line the bodice and add the skirt.

I finished the gown in a hurry to wear to an event and misjudged the hem – too long. And I decided was not happy with the look – too similar to the Green wool. So, since I had to cut the bottom guard off anyway to shorten the skirt, I decided to replace all the guards with red velvet…

It took some time to unpick and replace the bodice guards, hooks and eyes and lining, but there was no impact on the main construction, so it was not a difficult task. Just boring. But I was much happier with the result!

The Rock now fits well over my Unterrock, and is comfortable to wear. I often team it with a linen Gollar, as seen in the inspiration portraits above, or my pattern-darned Halshemd.


This could have been one of those projects that ended up in the corner, unfinished. Although it was seriously frustrating to have SO many setbacks, it was worth patiently working through them all – without trying to meet an event deadline.

I really enjoy wearing this now, and all the re-work was worth the effort.