Once upon a very long time ago I made and wore a cotehardie. Unfortunately I didn’t think that cotehardies are particularly flattering on me. After the yellow cotehardie I wore a lot of basic tunics.. and finally started making German gowns. The bodice on German gowns is a lot shorter then the bodice needed for a cote. On my German gown the bodice ends at the bottom of my ribs. For the cote to look right I needed to bring the bottom edge down to my natural waist. That’s probably a 3″ difference. I’m awful bumpy below the ribs.. and in the German gowns I can camouflage that with the very high waist.. I’m not able to do that in the cote. Regardless after many years of -not- wearing a cotehardie I’ve decided to try it again only this time I want to do a 15th century waisted cotehardie.
In retrospect I think the issues with the yellow cotehardie mostly came because the skirt was fairly narrow.. and frankly I wasn’t that good at sewing.. so although the fit was adequate, it wasn’t great. Luckily, I’ve gotten better.
This time I’m planning to do a cotehardie (cote, kirtle, gothic fitted gown, gothic fitted dress, whatever you want to call it) with a waist seam. The addition of a waist seam will allow me to get a lot of added fullness in the skirt. I’ll add pleats to the back of the skirt to take up any excess (and to allow for sufficient flair over my hips). Lastly, I want to make this out of linen with short sleeves and an unlined skirt. Hopefully that will allow me to wear this at very hot events (eg: Pennsic) without overheating.
Research and Background
These dresses are seen in a lot of images by Flemish and French artists in the late 1400s.
Details to include:
– Supportive bodice with front, back and side seams.
– Spiral lace closure in the front that extends below the waist seam
– Waist seam at natural waist
– Rounded neckline front and back that has a reinforcement strip on the inside. (Though, if I was doing a strictly french fashion it looks like the front at least would be squared)
– Long sleeved chemise that barely peeks up above the neckline and comes to about knee height
– Short sleeves with pin on lower sleeves of a different color.
– Skirt pleated into the waistline. I plan to only have pleats in the back.
– Trapezoidal gored skirt.
– Belt worn at the waist, or, more comomnly, low on the hips
– White linen tailed cap
– Open hood
Lara Corsets & Gowns: 15th Century Women’s Clothing During England’s War of the Roses
Robin Netherton: The Gothic Fitted Dress FAQ
The Hundred Years’ Wardrobe: A Sewing Experiment
Men’s and Women’s Work Clothing: A Portfolio of Images Simon Bening, The DaCosta Hours. A lot of working women images from 1515 with short-sleeves.