Make your own boy's Tudor gown
Make your own gown
We have created a costume for you that is inspired by a variety of historical sources, including paintings and existing examples of clothing from the 16th century. The pattern is intended to interpret a look whilst being simple to make.
This pattern has been developed to fit an average ten year old; however the loose fit means it will still look great on boys 9-12 without alteration.
Time to make: three full days
Download the pattern
Download the pattern (PDF, 7.69MB) >
Download the instructions
Instructions for gown without fur collar (PDF, 1.19MB) >
Instructions for gown with fur collar (PDF, 1.39MB) >
Choosing the fabric for your gown
If you would like the gown to look expensive and fashionable, you might choose a silky fabric in rich colours such as red, gold or black. The heavier the fabric, the more expensive the gown will look. Velvet will look very luxurious and a patterned fabric was very fashionable. The Tudors liked big simplified floral and geometric patterns. You could make the gown look more expensive by using a silky fabric for the collar and to line the inside of the gown.
You could also add trimming to the gown to display even more wealth. Bands of trimming called ‘guards’ were often added to the edge of garments to decorate them; the more bands that were added,the more expensive the gown. You could use strips of velvet ribbon to achieve this effect or you could add lengths of gold braid to create a more sumptuous garment.
High street – or hunter?
If you would like the gown to look practical and sporty, you might choose a more hard-wearing fabric such as wool. Green and russet, a dark copper or brown, were popular colours for hunting which was a fashionable pastime and a favourite of kings. You could continue the hunting theme by using fur to trim the collar and lapels of the gown.
Use your imagination to think about who might have worn this gown in the past, what they might like and what they would have been able to afford. You can use some of these ideas and combine them in different ways according to your personality.
Think about the fabrics, colours and trimmings which are fashionable now, think about the ways we express ourselves through clothing, our status symbols and our favourite pastimes.
Henry VIII was a fashionable king who used clothing to send messages to his courtiers and subjects. What message might you like to send to Henry VIII when you visit him at Hampton Court Palace?
Why gowns were great!
Most Tudor men wore a gown of some sort, from the poorest peasant up to King Henry VIII himself. Henry, who loved to dress up, had at least 79 gowns made for him during his reign!
The gown was a loose over garment flaring from the shoulders with short puffed sleeves and a turned back collar. It would have been worn over a doublet and hose (male stockings) and a coat or jerkin. The outfit would have been completed with a flat hat called a bonnet and with accessories such as a belt, a dagger and a pouch for money, because clothing rarely had pockets.
Many people believe that the exaggerated, wide-shouldered silhouette produced by the puffed sleeves of the coat and gown was a display of strength, making the King and his courtiers appear powerful. Expensive fabrics and trimmings further demonstrated their wealth.
Growing up in gowns
In the 16th century, children were dressed as mini adults. For high status families, the production of ‘heirs and spares’ to secure their dynastic line was very important. As soon as they could toddle, children of the wealthy were restrained in small versions of adult styles and groomed for their future roles.