Princess Dress

Fitting started 3/8/2016.
kitty_dressBlue waisted linen kirtle started 5/13/2016, handed off (with unfinished hem) 6/9/2016.


Fitted, self-supportive (ie, not bra underneath). Short sleeved, waisted kirtle. Front opening. Bodice will have two layers of linen, skirt will have one layer of linen. Square necked. Edges bound. Silk sleeves tied in at the shoulder.

Inspirational Images
Continue reading Princess Dress

How now Brown Gown?

Brown velvet gown started March 29, 2016. Finished April 23, 2016.

For my laurelling ceremony I want to wear a gown over my kirtle. I lucked upon a great deal on brown cotton velveteen at $3.20/yd. So I got 10 yards of it.

This is going to be a brown velvet gown with a center front opening which will be held closed with hook and eye at the bodice (open on the skirt). The gown will have a waist seam and very wide sleeves (which can be folded back). The sleeves and the skirt will be lined in black cotton velveteen. The neck and the hem will also be bound with black velveteen. For this dress I’m going to use stuffed box pleats as shown in “The Queen’s Servants” page 46.

The sleeves will be very wide but I want the seam to be at the underarm (lined up with the side seam) and end up at the bottom of sleeve drop at the wrist. For the sleeve, I want a very wide sleeve which can be worn down (to the back of my knuckles) or can be rolled up partially(~3-4 inches) or half way up the arm. When rolled back I want the rolled back portion to sit flat against the sleeve it’s rolled up against. When I was fitting the sleeve I found the if I used a basic flared sleeve the rolled back portion didn’t sit flat. To fix this I updated the sleeve to go straight after it flairs out enough for the depth of the sleeve I want (see pattern).

Originally I thought I’d do a train.. but I finally decided against it. Realistically the number of times I’d wear the gown with the train down is approaching one and it seems silly to spend time and effort developing a pattern for and then sewing a feature I’d never use.

Inspirational Images

Continue reading How now Brown Gown?

Early Tudor White Partlet

Partlet V2.  Closer.

Partlet V2. Closer.

Planning began February 10, 2015.
Accessory finished March 19, 2016.
V2 finished March 30, 2016.
V3 finished April 17, 2016.


I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at early Tudor (1488-1515) pictures from France and Brittany and I’ve noticed quite a few of them have something white at the neckline. I believe that to be a partlet (sometimes called a gollar). Most of the time I see this under the kirtle layer. Occasionally I see it over the kirtle. In images from France/Brittany I’ve only seen the white partlet under the gown (in some Italian images the white partlet can be seen over the outer gown). Occasionally I’ll see the black partlet worn over the gown.. but the black partlet will be a different accessory with its own post.

My son is 2 and I tend to pick him up and carry him quite a bit so although I believe it would be correct to attach the partlet with pins (though I do boggle at trying to do work with pins that will come out and/or poke you) I’m going to make mine with ties instead.

The plan:
I want to make a white linen partlet from two layers of light weight linen ( IL020).
I will setup my pattern to eliminate shoulder seams.
(v1) This will be sewn closed under the arms and tied closed at the center front.
(v2 & v3)This will tie under the arms and be sewn closed at the center front.
This style of partlet does not have a collar.
I’ll wear this over my chemise but under my kirtle.
Continue reading Early Tudor White Partlet

In pursuit of a better kirtle

Hannah Brown worsted wool sleeveless waisted kirtle started January 17, 2016. Finished March 5, 2016.

I lost 10 lbs, gained 60 lbs, had a baby, lost 60 lbs and refit my bodice. I’ve had time since the last time I made a fitted kirtle to consider my construction methods and design choices and to make some new choices based on new information.**


breastbandSmock – The first layer of linen worn against the body. Often called a shirt, shert, hemd or chemise.

Kirtle – (kirtle, cotehardie, cote, gothic fitted dress, whatever you want to call it) The support layer. A dress worn over the smock. It supports and shapes the breasts. In middle/lower class this may be the only dress worn. The type of kirtle described here is appropriate for the late 15th/early 16th century (eg. 1480s-1540s possibly earlier/later). This is later (1540s and later) sometimes referred to as the petticoat.

Gown – The fancy dress worn over the kirtle. Made of expensive fabrics and sometimes fur lined.

Breast Band – (outlined in dotted lines in image to the left) In the kirtle the breasts are kept up by having the pattern tightly fitted to the body. There is a band about 2-3 inches wide which runs below the breasts on the rib cage. If this band is nice and tight and on-grain it’s impossible for the breasts to “droop”. Above the band the breasts are shaped by the space available in the pattern and the tautness of the fabric both from the side seam and from the shoulder seam. Below the band the pattern should at most skim the the body. I do not recommend shaping the body below the breast band.

Continue reading In pursuit of a better kirtle

Supportive Fitted Under Kirtle

Just a reminder that I have no evidence that this is a “period” practice in ~15th century France (Yes, yes, I know about the Lengberg bra but that’s in Germany/Austria/Bohemia.. not France/Brittany/Netherlands). I just know that I want more support than my current kirtles are giving me and the quickest/easiest fix is to make a small undergarment to do the heavy lifting.

The shape of the under kirtle is based on my most recent adjusted fitting for a 4-panel kirtle. The under kirtle will only extend down to the bottom of the breast band. Unlike my normal kirtle pattern the under kirtle will lace up the sides (I didn’t want the laces to match up between the under kirtle and the kirtle). For the under kirtle I eliminated the center front seam and made the front as a single piece. I probably should have made the back as a single piece but I wanted to be sure to keep the breast band on the straight grain and my back piece doesn’t lend itself easily to that in a single panel. So instead I’ve left the seam in the center back panel.

The under kirtle is made with two layers of linen (because two seems more supportive than one). The eyelets will be pierced through the sides and the seam allowance at the sides (ie, I’m not using a reinforcement strip).

I tried on my V3 mockup and then put my blue kirtle on over the mockup and had my husband mark the neckline in the back. Then I cut the mockup so that the under kirtle will not show under my existing kirtles. This will work for the underkirtle but I think I’ll have to go back and re-do the neckline on the mockup for a V4. The new pattern with the old neckline is just too narrow in the back.

– (done) Cut out two front pieces with no center seam
– (done) Cut out four half back pieces
– (done) Stitch together back pieces to end up with two back pieces with a center seam.
– (done) Connect front to back at sleeve top for outer and inner layers.
– (done) Put right side’s together and then sew around the outer edge connecting front to front and back to back.
– (done) Flip garment right-side-out through the neck opening.
– (done) Nip corners of neck opening and fold seam allowance to inside the garment.
– (done) Hand stitch neck opening.
– (done) Add Eyelets to sides (20 eyelets per side, 40 eyelets total).
– (done-ish) Add sleeves and skirt so that the under kirtle can be worn in place of my current chemise. (stretch goal)

Finished the last eyelet at midnight, 4 days before the event where I plan to wear the garment. I wore the under kirtle around the house for a few minutes and then put on my blue kirtle over the under kirtle. This will work. The under kirtle feels only slightly more restrictive than my normal bra. I’ll wear it on Saturday and confirm that I can tolerate wearing it for a full day.

Since I have 4 days I plan to go ahead and add the sleeves and skirt onto this in lighter weight linen. I like the idea of being able to swap this out for my normal chemise.

[post-mortem: I first wore the garment on 2/14/2015 at the West Coast Culinary Symposium]
I only had time to add the sleeves before the first wearing.. but after that wearing I’ve decided to remove the sleeves and I never did add a skirt.

I wore this garment all day on Saturday and Sunday for the West Coast Culinary Symposium.

On the plus side this kept my girls perky all day and not once did I notice any droop.
On the minus side: I found the left strap was pulling uncomfortably on my shoulder (I have a shoulder impingement which makes the shoulder painful occasionally but this strap made it painful all the time). Also I found that as I moved around through the day (sitting and standing) the lace on the sides also moved. Occasionally this pinched me horribly. I think this happened because the lace was against bare skin. In future I’ll wear this with a chemise and hopefully this will fix the issue.

– (done) The left shoulder strap currently uses 1/2″ seam allowance. I’ll change this to 1/4″ seam allowance giving my shoulder another 1/2″ of movement.
– (done) Remove the sleeves which I’d sewn into the garment and will instead wear this with a chemise.

[second post-mortem: I wore this garment for the second time on 2/21/2015 at the Northern Wolf Tournament]
The tweaks to the shoulder seam fixed the pulling on my shoulder and wearing a chemise under the garment fixed the pinching. I view this as a fantastic success.

[third post-mortem: I wore this all day on Saturday and Sunday at Beltane 5/1/2015]
Towards the end of Beltane weekend I noticed that the underkirtle was pulling and poking me uncomfortably. First because the lace is under the arm the top of the lace has a knot which pokes me uncomfortable. I don’t know what I’m going to do about that other then resolve that I won’t do side lacing again. I also noticed that the armscye was cutting me uncomfortably across the back of the arm. I think this is cut a smidge high and I’ll recut any followups and give the back of my arm another 1/4″ – 1/2″ wiggle room.

That said the underkirtle was supportive all day. In fact I ended up briefly wearing the underkirle under a t-shirt and I was amazed at what a different shape the underkirtle gives from my normal brassiere.

Making a kirtle to wear under my kirtles

Lengberg_bra_600_years_570I’m faced once again with shrinking out of my fitted kirtle (I know, rough problem to have). This means I again need to re-fit my bodice pattern and make new clothes. I hate that. I mean I have four workable if slightly big dresses which I would like to continue to wear and making all new clothes is a pain.

After thrashing about this for a while and reading a few threads in the Age of the Cotehardie Facebook group I’ve decided instead to make a Lendberg bra dress. That way the .. ahem heavy lifting will be handled by an under garment and I can continue to wear the dresses I have for a while longer. That said.. I recognize that I’m trying to recreate late 15th century French fashions.. and the bras are German/Austrian/Bohemian. I’m fundamentally ok with that. Honestly I’m just looking for something to extend the life of my current dresses while I’m shrinking out of them… though I may be tempted to use this as a support layer going forward.

[Edited to add: Yeah, ok I decided to make a Lengberg bra and I said I was ok with it.. but the more I worked on it the less happy I was with the decision. I finally decided instead to just tackle a whole new fitting and make a kirtle to go under my kirtles. I hate fitting a new kirtle. It takes a long time and is just less zen than straight up sewing. Regardless I finally figured out that’s what I needed to do and I just did it. I did -start- with a duct tape pattern.. but that was not the end of it.]

Since the last time I made a fitted bodice I’ve read a couple of very good articles and plan to try to incorporate those lessons into this fitting.

I use the same pattern for both my German garb and my 15th century kirtles. It makes sense to me as I remain the same shape. The difference is that the 15th century kirtle is fitted to my natural waist (about belly-button level) while the German bodice ends at the bottom of my ribs (about 2 inches above my natural waist).

Problems with previous pattern:
– I believe that I again fitted the pattern with me standing at attention with my shoulders thrown back. This means the dresses made with the pattern were comfortable as long as I was standing upright, but if I slouched or laid down I got a pain in my back in between my shoulder blades from the way the fabric pulled on my body. I want to pay special attention this time to see if I can eliminate this issue.
– The last dress was supportive but I could still wriggle into/out of the dress. I think this is because the under-bust breast band wasn’t actually as tight as it should be. I plan to bring this in. This should have the side effect of making a lace mandatory.
– I believe the armseye on the last pattern was too big. On this one I want to fit closer to the arm and eliminate some of the excess fabric the pattern was forcing me to add into the top of the sleeve.
– I am still dearly in love with short-sleeved kirtles with pin on sleeves. That said, since my son is still in my arms and carried quite a bit I can’t use pin on sleeves for fear of poking/scratching him. This time I may do a full length fitted sleeve. That said, I still want to be able to push the sleeve up to my elbows in case I need to wash dishes.

For this fitting I’m using a zipper on the center front seam to make it easier to get into/out of the dress for iterating on the fitting. This has been super great since it’s nice and fast. The only wrinkle is that the zipper takes up a different amount of seam allowance than the final lace placket will. I’ll need to take that into account when I cut out the final dress. I -think- I just need to add 1/2 seam allowance to the center front seam and I’ll be good.

Continue reading Making a kirtle to wear under my kirtles

Side-Laced Cotehardies as maternity wear

Well now.. I wish I’d seen this 4 months ago.

At this point (7-ish weeks from due date) I won’t be altering any of my cotehardies.. but if I’d seen this a while ago I’d’ve added side lacings to my cotehardies and continued to use them as maternity wear.

As it is there’s really only one event I’m planning to possibly attend before the baby’s birth.. so it seems silly to alter a dress now (silly but if I’m bored and can’t come up with anything else to do I might do it.. we’ll see).

[Edited to add]
On a whim I just shimmied into my black waisted cotehardie which I made a year and a half (and 50 lbs) ago.

I am currently 34 weeks pregnant. I was able to get the dress on. I’ve gained about a cup size in my breasts so there was a bit of spill over at the top. I could tame it all into the dress and the dress is still supportive but it looks like the bodice is flattening my breasts more than cupping them (Though honestly, looking at the pictures from when I first made the dress I see indications of the same flattening.. so the issue here could be the fit of my bodice pattern, not the added weight from pregnancy).

Normally, when I’m not pregnant, when I wear the dress the hem is just barely touching the ground. Right now over all the hem is now about 5 inches off the ground. In the front it’s probably more like 8-10 inches off the ground. If I’d added the “ruffle” that you see in period illustrations I could have probably let it out to get the hem down to ground level.

January 25, 2014. After splitting the front and adding eyelets and a lace.

January 25, 2014. After splitting the front and adding eyelets and a lace.

My belly is causing the dress to ride-up in the front (probably part of where those additional 3-5 inches went). This puts some pretty serious wrinkles under my breasts, but it’s not terribly uncomfortable. I could probably wear the dress just as it is without adding side laces. But if I added side laces it would allow the dress to not ride-up so much.. and would minimize the amount of ankle showing at the hem. Then again.. I was pretty big before I got pregnant.. and although I’m “showing” it’s not as dramatic a big pregnant belly like some of the skinnier gals will get.

BUT: as for a long-term wear.. since I made the dress without a lace this will NOT work for breastfeeding. If I want to use this dress after the birth I’d need to alter it by at least adding a lace to the center front.

Considering I fit the dress to myself over 50 lbs ago.. I’m kind of pleased at how well it fits.

Edited to add:
In Januray 2014, just after I gave birth to my son, I updated this dress so that it would be open down the front with eyelets so it could be closed with a lace. This turns out to be fantastic breastfeeding garb.

Patsy’s Grey Velvet Cotehardie with Tippets

Photo by Joel the Brewer

Photo by Joel the Brewer

Photo by Joel the Brewer

Photo by Joel the Brewer

On September 12, 2013 Her Majesty Patricia contacted me to ask if I could make a Cotehardie for her to wear at October Crown (October 5). She would supply the pattern and the fabric and other materials. I agreed to make the dress for her but warned that there may not be enough time to finish the eyelets for the lace.
Continue reading Patsy’s Grey Velvet Cotehardie with Tippets

Super Secret Projects for Cynaguan Coronet

Ok. So here’s the post-mortem details on my Super Secret Projects for Cynaguan Coronet.

A while ago Their Highnesses expressed Their wish that the theme for Cynaguan Fall Coronet (which occurs near Halloween) was to be “Medieval Superheroes and Villians”. After considering it for a while I came up with a cunning and diabolical plan for our costumes. I dress as Captain America and my love dressed as Captain Hammer (from Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog). I had -a lot- of fun putting these together.

Captain America Cotehardie Photo by Patsy Reece

Captain (Thor’s) Hammer Photo by Patsy Reece

Continue reading Super Secret Projects for Cynaguan Coronet

Mocha Waisted Kirtle

Mocha short-sleeved waisted cotehardie started August 18, 2012, then, in the middle of sewing it together I moved.. so this dress is took a lot longer than normal. Finished October 2, 2012.

It occurs to me that you’re probably saying to yourself “Damn.. does she blog about every blasted dress she sews together?” Ok.. so I know I’ve been blogging the heck out of my waisted kirtles.. and if I’d come up with the ONE PERFECT WAY to do them then I’d blog that and stop blogging each individual dress.. but I haven’t found that “perfect way” yet.. and every dress is still a learning experience.. and if I don’t want to forget what I learned on the last dress then I need to make sure it’s written down so I do it right on the next dress. I promise, when I come up with the ONE PERFECT WAY to make these I’ll post it on the blog and then add links to it from practically everywhere. But until then… yeah.. fourth verse, same as the first (only not exactly the same.. changed only in the slightest.. but changed none-the-less).

So anyway. Building on what I learned with my Black, Crimson and Cobalt Kirtles (kirtle, cotehardie, cote, gothic fitted dress, whatever you want to call it) we come to my newest dress. I want a kirtle which is a little bit warmer than my other kirtles. To that end this one will have a wool outer layer and the bodice will be lined in linen. I contemplated having long sleeves on this one.. but I’m still really grooving on having a different color for the lower sleeve.. so this one will still have the short sleeves (added bonus, I know my pattern for short sleeves works.. and I’m not yet ready to finalize my long sleeve pattern).

Added bonus: I finally found a nice shop where I can take my sewing machine and get it serviced. I have an old Sears Kenmore machine and it’s a beast.. but the tension has gone all wonky so I need to get that repaired. I chatted with the shop owner and described my problem and he immediately said he knew how to fix that (well that and he complimented me on having such a nice machine.. yeah brownie points there). Anyway, he has a 3 week backup.. so if I’m going to take my machine in to him I need to be prepared for no machine sewing for 3 weeks. OMG 3 whole weeks? How will I survive? Simple, by quickly prepping any machine sewn projects in the pipeline so I have only a bunch of hand sewing over the next 3-4 weeks. Hence the reason I’m in hurry-up mode on the Mocha dress (which I want to wear the first week in October) and have started that one before I’ve even finished my Cobalt dress.

Inspirational Images

Triptych of Adriaan Reins, a Brother at Sint, Hans Memling, 1480

Le Roman de la Rose Made for Louise of Savoy, late 15th century

Le Roman de la Rose Made for Louise of Savoy, late 15th century

1470 Dancing Peasants

Mocha Waisted Kirtle Todo:

– (done) Wash fabric (8 yards necessary)(see Learnings below)
– (done) Cut out the bodice and sleeves. (~1/2 yard per layer so in this case, 1/2 yard wool and 1 yard linen)
– (done) Cut out the skirt. (8 trapezoids see new cutting plan below) (~7 yards for the whole skirt, it’s unlined)
– (done) Sew skirt together. (French seam the panels together with bias edges towards the back of the skirt. End up with bias to bias at the center back. Better swoosh and the front hangs straight.)
– (done) Make the short sleeves (wool lined in linen)(sew inner and outer fabrics together along what will be the bottom edge. Then sew them into a tube making sure that the seam is matched up between the inner and outer layers)
– (done) Completely sew the bodice together and try it on to test the fit (use fully enclosed seams on front/back/2 sides then stitch the neckline on the front pieces before attaching the sleeve strap to the back piece and stitching the back pieces)
– (done) Attach the short sleeves to the bodice (sew down on the outside then flip and hand sew down the inside) (~3-4 hrs handsewing)
– (done) Attach the skirt to the bodice (Put a box pleat at the center-back and then knife pleat either side to fit the top of the skirt to the bottom of the bodice. Sew the skirt to the front layer of the bodice and then flip the back layer of the bodice around to make a hidden seam on the inside).
– (done) Hem the dress


I -know- that two layers of linen will properly support my bust. I don’t know that one layer of linen and one layer of tropical weight wool will support me. So I decided to do two layers of linen for the lining of the bodice with the layer of wool on the outside. It seems logical. We’ll see how that works out. For the sleeves I only used a single layer of linen.

I purchased 10 yards of this chocolate colored tropical weight wool in April of 2010 from It was a really good sale coupled with another good discount code it worked out to $4.79/yard. This has been languishing in my stash for a little over two years. Finally, yesterday when I pulled it off the roll to wash it there seemed to be a lot more than 10 yards.. more like 15 yards. I went back and checked my purchase order.. and yeah, I only purchased 10 yards. Regardless. I washed it and then dried it and then laid it out to cut out the bodice. That was then I figured out why they’d given me extra fabric. Throughout my hunk of wool there are occasionally spots where the dye is uneven. I’m fairly certain I’ll be able to work around them.. but now it totally makes sense why they threw in the additional yardage. After cutting out my bodice and sleeves (~1 yd) I have almost 13 yards remaining.. but it looks like 1 yard of that in the middle is splotchy.

For the linen lining I’m using up the last of a wad of IL19 Coffee Bean linen I have left over from another project.

Oh, and Chocolate + coffee bean = Mocha.

For this version I (again) tweaked my skirt panel cutting pattern. In the last version I cut the skirt panels as trapezoids instead of triangles. After that adjustment I found that I had 10″ of excess fabric at the bottom the skirt when I cut the hem. This seems aweful wasteful so I will adjust the length of the panels to be closer to 50″ (old measurements – 2 inches from the top and 8″ from the bottom). This should leave about 1 additional yard available for cutting out the bodice (4 panels @8″ each = 32″ of fabric no longer in the skirts). This means that I’m back to being able to get these dresses from 8 yards of fabric. It was a good plan.. but when I cut out the skirt panels I somehow ended up at 45″x58″ instead of 50″x58″. This would have put me ~5 inches short on the hem and that is just not acceptable. So instead I cut the skirt length along the 58″ measurement.. and I’ll just suck it up that the skirt is a little bit less full than I would like. Heck if it really bugs me I’ll cut out a couple more panels from the extra yardage I have and add to the fullness. I still think it’s a good plan (cutting at 50″x58″) .. so I will definitely do it on my next dress.

In addition to cutting the panels as trapezoids, this time I also evened up the trapezoids by nipping off another triangle at the top of each panel(see the cutting plan). This should make the seams hang straight.

After wearing this twice.. it has a weird pucker in the middle front. I think I will try washing/drying it and see if that goes away.. if not I may pop that seam open and add a lace there instead of having it pull over my head.

Progress Pictures:

Other Relevant Entries

Waisted Kirtles
Black Waisted Kirtle
Crimson Waisted Kirtle
Cobalt Waisted Kirtle
15th Century Tailed Cap (aka: Flemish Kerchief)