The Modern Maker


New Beginnings

As I begin to work on the next volume of The Modern Maker, I am starting out by looking at some patterns that I have had less experience with. This week, I'm looking at a garment from Burguen's manual of 1618. It is called a Sotanilla. There are two types. A half-fit style, with a shaped and fitted front and a loose back, and a fitted style with a both a shaped front and a shaped back. I have made garments which resemble the fitted style so I will be exploring the half-fit style since I have less experience with it. I have to look through the other tailors manuals to find out if it was intended to be lined. I've never seen such a garment in a museum. There is an early 18th century coat that survives which is a similar cut and is fully lined in linen..even though the date is a bit far off to use as evidence, similar styles do seem to be treated in similar ways over the course of time. And the few surviving coat-like cloaks from the late 16th and early 17th centuriues are also lined, so my assumption is that it should be lined. Alçega mentions false back panels "postizas falsas" when he describes the Mongil Trançado, which is a woman's half-fit gown with a long draped back, but doublet shaped front with attached skirt. He doesn't mention a lining. The false back (or fitted interior back panel) is a lining piece that appears to be necessary to make the sotanilla fit well. The sotanilla is placed among the clerical clothing, so it may be part of the wardrobe of the church. However, in most cases, the author has labeled specific drafts "for clergymen." Interestingly, the fully fit style is called "sotanilla for a bachelor" however that is based on a more modern meaning for the word "mancebito" It may well have had a different meaning in 1618. As part of the project, I will make sure to corroborate the definition and find out more about the history of this garment and hopefully, it will give us a fuller understanding of its intended use. 

As I continue to study the garment, I have noticed that the length for all the clerical soutanes is quite clearly sBB or, 1bara and 5/6. Its hard to assign exact lengths because the bara would be scaled according height. Were I making a clerical garment, it would be floor length. 66" for my height with a 2 or three inch hem assumed for final length of about 63-64" from high point of shoulder. It would be about 1" from the floor. The Sotanillas (which appear to be secular garments), are cut a little shorter. At my height of 5'11.5", bringing the length to 49.5" from the high point of shoulder to the hem. There is some doubt as to exactly where this length is intended to be measured. Some believe that it should be measured from the top of the back collar to the hem and the front bears the same measurement imprint as a code for the cutter to know that those pieces are meant to be sewn together. However, in every modern case from the 18th century to present, the measurement that is given is laid from high point of shoulder to hem as collars can be quite variable depending on the client. In layouts such as this one, it is also assumed based purely on practicality and logic that all seam allowances and hem allowances are included in the measurements as they are given.

In reading the definition of Sotana from a 1611 dictionary of Spanish, it says "A coat of the clergy, long enough to cover the ankle. Sotana is so-called because it is worn beneath the mantle. Sotanilla is the same garment but shorter." This definition doesn't seem to indicate whether the shorter garment is considered secular wear, or clerical only. Its clear from a few paintings of the era that there are styles of sotanilla that are worn by leymen, but in the Manual, there is no such distinction.

 Here is the pattern layout from the Manual

Here is the pattern layout from the Manual

Allan GnagyComment