1520s German Red Linen Rock

An early 16th century middle class gown in red linen with a tied neckline, inspired by two woodcuts.

I was very pleased with my pink and green gowns, but needed another summer-weight Rock. My previous gowns had slashed sleeves made with strips sewn into bands, but my friend Montjoye had made a 16th century German gown with bound slashes within the piece. It looked excellent (and much more like the images), so I was keen to try it myself.

Linen, canvas, cotton velveteen, velvet ribbon

Research & Design

This Rock was inspired by two woodcut by Bartel Betham and Hans Sebald Beham – both showing a woman with slashed sleeves. Bartel’s shows a double guarding, while Hands Sebald has a tie across the top of the decorated Hemd, holding the bodice together.

I used elements of both woodcuts, but decided on detached lower sleeves, like my pink Rock – which had proved so practical for cooking and camp chores.

The rich red linen was a gift from my friend Jan – just large enough to make a new Rock!


The bodice was based on the green linen Rock, with narrow shoulder straps, but with a shaped front opening. The sleeves are in two separate parts, with the top section slashed.

I cut the bodice in the red linen and interlined it with cotton canvas. I basted the black velveteen guard around the neck, then followed the same process as the green linen Rock. Once I had the large neck guarding on, I sewed a row of narrow velvet ribbon, following the line.

For the upper sleeves, I laid them flat, lined them with black linen, then put another layer of black linen over the top. I machine sewed around each slit, cut them, slit the top layer apart, pushed it through the slit to the back and then stitched down to form a binding around each slit (like this).

To make up the sleeve, I sewed the seam (keeping the lining clear) then sewed the lining along the seam. I added the velvet band at the base, inserted the sleeve into the bodice armscye and sewed up the lining.

The lower sleeve was a simple construction, with the guards added to the sewn sleeve – not sewn on first. These bands need to be slightly larger than the piece they are being applied to, so this is essential to avoid pulling.

I made the skirt up in the same way as the green linen Rock, but with a single hem guard.

I usually wore this with the same green underskirt I had made for the pink linen Rock, and with a green Goller (I do like red and green together).


As with all these early pieces, I would construct this gown very differently now, and use a light wool in preference to linen.

I would also change the sleeve design, making the top section much longer, so it stopped just at the elbow bend (like my Teal Rock). As it is, there is a bit of a Disney Princess vibe going on, which is not really what I wanted!