Quick and Dirty Trunk Hose
Despite a large number of people wearing doublets in the SCA, there are surprisingly few people who wear trunk hose (or slops or pluderhosen as they are also known) with their doublets. Most opt for some form of relatively straight-legged knee breeches. I suspect this is because most clothiers don’t have a pattern for making trunk hose, or else they are intimidated by the very thought of making something so unusual.
This article is intended to rectify that situation. I make no claims to the historical accuracy of this method (it doesn’t entirely agree with Janet Arnold, for example) but it’s fairly easy to do, and the resulting garment looks good.
1. Start with a base piece of fabric that is at least twice the waist measurement by 2/3 the crotch seam measurement (i.e. for a 36" waist with a 21" crotch seam, the base piece should be 72" by 14".) See figures 1 and 1a.
2. Sew the short edges together to form a cylinder with a circumference that is twice the waist measurement. Leave about 4" of the seam open at the bottom end. See figure 2.
3. Cut a 4" slit on the opposite side of the cylinder from the open seam. See figures 3 and 3a.
4. Sew the slit and the open seam together. This will produce something that looks like a very large pair of shorts. See figure 4.
5. Fold the upper edge over and sew it to produce a tube around the top of the trunk hose. Leave a few inches unsewn, and insert a drawstring or elastic. This will be the waistband. Do the same thing with each leg opening. (Personally, I use elastic, but drawstrings are more authentic. Neither option will affect the final look of the trunk hose.) See figure 5.
6. At this point the trunk hose are ready to wear. The elastic or drawstring and the extra fabric combines to give the requisite "puffy" look. See figure 6.
By itself, this method produces the right silhouette, but a rather dull garment, unless a brocade or other pretty fabric is used. There are several ways to make the trunk hose look better.
- Stripes: Start with two pieces of fabric in different colors. Each should be the waist measurement plus four to six inches (for extra seam allowance) by 2/3 the crotch seam. Cut them into strips of whatever width amuses you, then sew alternating strips together—yes, that’s a lot of sewing, but since they’re all straight seams, it goes fairly quickly. This will produce a striped base piece; proceed as above.
- Slops or pluderhosen: Instead of 2/3 the crotch seam, use the full measurement or more. This will give a fuller and "droopier" look.
- Padded: Start with two pieces of fabric of the base size. Sew them together along the top edge, leaving two six-inch openings spaced evenly apart. Proceed as above, but sew the two pieces of fabric together above the slit in step 3. (This prevents the padding from all shifting to one side.) In this instance, put in the leg elastic or drawstring first, then insert padding through the six-inch gaps before making the waistband. (I generally use poly-fiber pillow stuffing, but rags or other padding could also be used.)
- Venetians: Make the vertical measurement of the base piece the distance from the waist to just below the knee, instead of 2/3 the crotch seam. In steps 2 and 3, the open seam and slit will need to be much longer, but the closed portion should still be 2/3 of the crotch seam. This will produce a pair of baggy, knee-length Venetians. Padding can be added to produce another look common in period but rare in the SCA.
- Paned: This is the style where the outer layer is slit vertically to show off the inner layer. Panes can be simulated by using the striped method described above, or done for real by making an outer base piece with vertical slits in it. This can be done by cutting slits in a non-fraying fabric, or actually hemming up a series of long panels and attaching them at top and bottom.
Paned slops can quickly reach a level of complexity that takes it out of the realm of "quick and dirty," but they might be interesting to try after making a few of the easier styles.
There is also nothing wrong with combining variations such as padded and striped or paned slops.
Finally a word about points. Points are ties that attach to an undergarment such as the hose or trunk hose, and are tied through grommets at the bottom of the doublet. They hold up the lower garment and prevent "gaposis." This is useful when fighting, but makes going to the privy a bit of an adventure. Now I understand why they had codpieces.
To make points, attach pairs of long (15" minimum) ties at four to six places around the top of the trunk hose. Install eyelets in the corresponding locations in the doublet. Thread the points through the eyelets (a servant is useful here) and tie them in big, flamboyant bows. Alternatively, attach the points to the hose, and put grommet pairs in both the doublet and the trunk hose.