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)

Cobalt Kirtle

First time wearing the dress. Invited to be on HRM Zanobia’s Queen’s Artisan’s. Photo taken by Joel Schonbrunn.

Blue short-sleeved waisted cotehardie started July 30,2012 then I paused and didn’t work on it during Pennsic (8/2-8/13). Finished on 8/22.

Third time’s the charm. Based on my success with my Black Kirtle (kirtle, cote, gothic fitted dress, whatever you want to call it) and Crimson Kirtle I’ve decided to make another. This time it will be Cobalt blue (A really gorgeous dark blue linen in IL19 from Due to time constraints and .. other reasons.. I will not be adding a lace to this. Frankly I can wriggle into my dresses even when they’re tight and supportive without needing the added lace.. so it seems silly to go through that effort. I can always go back and add it in the future.

I had all of the machine sewing done before I flew out for Pennsic. I knew that if I took the project to Pennsic I could have finished it.. but then I would have spent all of Pennsic hand sewing.. so I left it at home and I completed it the first week after I returned from Pennsic. This was first worn at West Kingdom Purgatorio Coronation August 25th, 2012.

This dress is also the base for my -=Super Secret=- plans for Cynaguan Fall Coronet. I’ll post more about that later.

Inspirational Images

1470 Dancing Peasants

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

Cobalt Waisted Kirtle Todo:

– (done) Wash fabric (8-8.5 yards necessary)(see Learnings below)
– (done) Cut out the bodice and sleeves.
– (done) Cut out the skirt. (8 trapezoids cut at 9″ wide at top and 49″ wide at bottom)
– (done) Sew skirt together. (Sew the panels together with bias edges towards the back of the skirt. End up with bias to bias at the center back. Better swoosh.)
– (done) Make the short sleeves(two layers of linen)
– (done) Completely sew the bodice together and try it on to test the fit
– (done) Attach the short sleeves to the bodice (sew down on one side then flip and hand sew down the other side)
– (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
– (done) Bonus: French Open Hood


On my Black Kirtle I started off with 15 yards of fabric.. so I didn’t have any issues. On my Red Kirtle I had 8 yards of fabric. I cut out the bodice.. and then cut out the skirt.. and ended up with two narrow-er than the rest skirt panels. At the time I figured I had just not been smart with my bodice layout. This time I again started with exactly 8 yards.. but I did it the other way around.. and cut out the skirt panels first (4 panels at 58″x58″ cut into trapezoids (like the image)). Then when I went to cut out the bodice I found that with the sleeve and with needing 4 layers for everything.. I just couldn’t quite squeeze it out of the remaining fabric.

Now I could have squeezed it in if I was willing to monkey with my bodice pattern.. and move some of the sleeve strap from the front to the back.. but I hate monkeying with someing without mocking it up first.. and honestly I’ve put myself in a bit of a crunch here by trying to get all of the machine sewing on this done before I head out for Pennsic.

After thinking about it for a while I decided to line the bodice in a light grey linen from a previous project. I think the fabrics go together well.. and by doing that I even ended up with enough leftover blue and grey to also make a matching open french hood.

So anyway.. the learning here: if you want to line the bodice in the same color as the dress.. and you don’t want to steal a few inches from the skirt width.. then you need to start with.. probably 8.5 yards at least. Otherwise.. just make sure you have 8 yards for the outer fabric.. and about 2 yards for lining the bodice.

Also, for this version I tweaked my skirt panel cutting pattern. Instead of cutting out triangles and then cutting off the top of the triangle I instead nipped off the tip of the triangle before I cut out the pattern(see the “Skirt panel cutting plan“). That worked well. But I think I want to adjust my panel plan further. Becuase I didn’t have to nip off the top triangles I could have saved a lot of fabric. In fact, as much as 8″ per panel (which would then allow me to get a full skirt out of 8 yards of fabric). Also I want to nip off another triangle at the top to even up the two sides so the seams will hang straight. I think that triangle is 2” on the straight edge.. I’ll adjust my panel cutting plan on the next dress. Next dress will be Brown wool lined in linen. The wool is currently in the dryer 😀

Wearing it
After wearing this once I can say that I -love- the way the front of the skirt hangs. Because the center front seam is straight edge to straight edge it hangs straight in the front. Love this. On my Black and Crimson dresses I end up with a weird drape-y triangle in the front.

At Pennsic I picked up the -perfect- belt for this ensemble from Billy and Charlie. It ended up costing $36! Which is FANTASTIC compared to the $150 other places were quoting me. I absolutely LOVE it. It completes the outfit.

I LOVE the open hood. It’s simple and cute. I copied this pattern from Brekke. I will still post it.. but aside from confirming that yes, it’s period and showing pictures where it’s worn.. I did absolutely no work on this pattern. All hail Brekke.

I didn’t love the fact that my new open hood keeps sliding off-center. It looks utterly dorky and I can’t tell when it happens. There’s quite a few pictures from this weekend with my hood being all sloppy and offcenter /fume. The fix for this (after I noticed it) was that I wore my St. Birgitta cap under the hood and I pinned the hood to the cap. I think I could also wear my two-tailed cap under the hood and be period correct. I also had problems that my new belt kept slipping off-center. I don’t have a cure for that yet. I guess I’ll just need to keep checking my belt to make sure it’s centered.

I also still dislike the sleeve pattern. I like the way the gold looks with the blue.. but I used a simple tube for the pattern when I first banged them out.. and I need to make working on this final pattern a higher priority item. Otherwise I’ll end up with a quick fix (the current sleeves) being the permanent fix.

Overall I’d still call this a win.

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.

Progress Pictures:

Other Relevant Entries

Waisted Kirtles
Black Waisted Kirtle
Crimson Waisted Kirtle

15th Century Tailed Cap (aka: Flemish Kerchief)


Diary started June 21, 2012


Winter is coming… and although winter in California is not exactly awash in ice and blowing snow.. I still would like to be prepared. Currently in the SCA when it gets cold I put on my heavy wool coat which is modeled off of an early period tunic.. and a fuzzy wool hat. This year I’d like to do something a little bit different. I’ve had 20 yards of really nice fake fur tucked away in my stash for about 8 years. I’ve never really had a good use for it.. in fact at one point I actually sold it.. and the buyer backed out.. so fine I guess I’ll just use it.

Since I’ve been trying out the fashions of the late 15th century it seems only right that I should go ahead and make one of the ubiquitous fur-lined over dress that you see in A LOT of the images.

Specifically I’m interested in the fur lined garment which has A LOT of rolly-polly pleats across the front of the chest.

Although planning is starting now.. I don’t expect to be able to work on this until after Pennsic.

Details to Include:

– Pleated front V-neck dress closed with a spiral lace (probably through lacing rings)
– Wide, probably rectangular, sleeves.
– Solid colored outer (probably wool) dress with fur lining.
– Fur lining showing at the v-neck, hem and wrist cuffs.
– Wide black belt with long descender and terminal. I love this belt in this image.
– Pleats are very rounded. I plan to stuff them. Pleats continue below the belt.

Inspirational Pictures

See Also

A theory on construction of the Houppelande: Cynthia Virtue’s rotated-corner, circle plan houppelande
SevenStarWheel: Houppelande for 12th Night 2009 – Planning and Pattern
The magical world of Marie-Chantal Cadieux: Yet another Houppelande construction theory…(2005)
Historical Costumes Gallery: Houppelande
By My Measure: Houppelande Belts of the Early 15th Century
Mistress Corisander Seathwaite: Understanding Houpelande and Burgundian Clothing Construction(PDF)

WRT: Veils. Medieval & Renaissance Material Culture:Goffered, frilled, and fluted veils
WRT: Stuffed Pleats. Crafty Agatha: Wool Housebook Dress
WRT: Belt Fittings. Armor and Castings: Burgundian Belt Set 1

15th Century Tailed Cap (aka: Flemish Kerchief)

Inspirational Pictures

Detail: L'Annonce aux bergers. Danse champêtre.Heures de Charles d'Angoulême, Folio 20V. French, late 15th century.

Detail:1470 Dancing Peasants

Detail: Illustration of mining by Robinet Testard, late 15th century

Detail: 1490 Hommes et femmes fanant et fauchant, Livre d-Heures de Charles d-Angouleme par Testard, Paris BNF

What I see:
White, probably linen, head thingy which appears to wrap around the back of the head and then ties (possibly a square knot) on the top of the head. The front has a flap which can either be forward or folded back.

The cap kind of looks like a St. Birgitta cap with an abreviated loop and a bill (the flappy bit the folds back). That said.. the ties are wide where they attach to the cap and then narrow as they get to the ends where they tie. I’m not sure how/where those would attach to the cap if the pattern was based off of the one I use to make the St. Birgitta coif.

It also kind of looks like a early form of a bonnet.

How have others reproduce it?
Heather’s Page: Flemish Kerchief
This method is missing the knot on top of the head. I like the look for some of the later Flemish paintings.. but this method doesn’t work for me for this project.

The Medieval Tailor’s Assistant has a pattern. I’m not satisfied with the pattern. It seems fantastically wasteful of fabric and frankly I’m annoyed by the lack of measurements on the pattern.

Racaire’s embroidery & needlework: Smurf Hood (Schlumpf Kopfbedeckung) episode II – I love the look of this one. It looks like a simple modification of the Medieval Tailor’s Assistant pattern. This eliminates the odd bias-cut bit and adds an interesting pleating to the back. But it has some odd seams that I don’t see in the images.. and although the pleating is interesting.. it’s another thing I don’t see in the inspiration images.

How I did it

My (updated) pattern for a two-tailed cap.

My (updated) pattern for a two-tailed cap.

Obviously the picture is not to scale. Use the measurements. The “cap” is 11″x11″ with an additional 5″ on the front for the “folded back bill” part of the hat.. and the tails are essential 10″ wide where they attach to the hat.. and 20″ 16″ long cut to be a triangle with the straight edge along the back of the cap.

– Add a rolled hem to all of the edges (marked in red) except the face edge.
– Fold/iron a 1/4″ of the fabric towards the inside of the cap at the face edge of the cap.
– Fold/iron the face edge towards the inside of the cap creating a bill of about 2- 2 1/2 inches. The fold should line up with where the tail curve begins. Stitch this down. (I used a running stitch).

I’m trying it out with just tucking the back.. I played with the hat for a while.. at the current size I just couldnt’ get the back to “tuck” in and hide my hair. I could make it larger.. or use pins.. but I think I’m going to go ahead and upgrade this to use a “direct smocking” fixed pleat like Racaire used.

– So last step the recreate, gather the back of the hat (~20 13 inches or so)(marked in light blue on my pattern) with 1/2 inch gathering pleat an then affix this with some kind of stitching (smocking, embroidery, whatever). I did two lines of white-on-white stemstitch pleatwork embroidery (as described here) across the tops of the pleats.

My cap cut out, pinned and ready for the last seam.

Closeup of the smocking used on the back

From the right

From the back

Left side

From the front

Other Resources:
Medieval Threads: Flemmish kercheif/coif/head thingie

A Medieval Wardrobe: 15th century Tailed Cap
Nice looking hat here.. but not a lot of info about how she made it.

Sevenstarwheel: Late 15th Century White Hood or Coif – Transition Period / War of the Roses
I don’t understand how her pattern works. I think I need to just make one out of fabric and try it out.

Other Relevant Entries

Waisted Kirtles
Black Waisted Kirtle
Crimson Waisted Kirtle
Cobalt Waisted Kirtle

{Edited to add: Recently I taught a class about constructing this hat and I found that my measurements in the picture were incorrect. I have now corrected those measurements in the picture and the text of this entry. Sorry to everyone who used the incorrect measurements. On the plus side this means that this can now be made from about 1/2 a yard of 58″ wide fabric.}

Seeing Red

Red short-sleeved waisted cotehardie started May 28, 2012. Finished June 29, 2012.

Since my black waisted cotehardie (kirtle, cote, gothic fitted dress, whatever you want to call it) worked out so well I’ve decided I need a few more. Pennsic is coming and I’m very hopeful that the short-sleeved linen waisted cotehardie will be light enough to wear at Pennsic without dieing from the heat. So with that in mind I’ve purchased 8 yards of crimson IL19 linen from and 8 yards of cobalt (destined to be the third dress). Looking back at my inspiration images, blue and red seem to be the most common colors for the short-sleeved dresses.

I’m going to take the learnings from the black cote and incorporate that into the pattern for the new one.

Inspirational Images

Rogier Van der Weyden, detail Seven Sacraments 1445-1450

The Stark triptych, 1480

Red Waisted Cotehardie Todo:

– (done) Wash fabric (8-8.5 yards necessary)
– (done) Update bodice pattern based on changes to the black cotehardie (In fitting the black I found that the back of the bodice was too long. I’ve now shortened it on my permanent pattern)
– (done) Make a pattern for the lower sleeves (Update pattern to be 5″ longer and have a S top with seam down the back of the arm)
– (done) Update short-sleeve pattern based on changes to the black cotehardie (move sleeve seam down to the bottom of the sleeve so it matches up with the bodice side seam)
– (done) Add picture of updated pattern pieces
– (done) Cut out the bodice.(I used my pattern but I also removed 0.5″ from each side of the front opening so that I’m able to lace the dress a little bit tighter than the pull-over-the-head version)(Sadly, it looks like that’s not enough. The bodice is too big. Next time I’ll completely sew the bodice together and try it on before opening the front seam to add a lace)
– (done) Cut out the skirt and sew it together. (Four 58″ squares cut corner-to-corner and then french seamed straight edge to bias edge to make a full circle skirt)(next time: Cut the panels at 9″ wide at top/bottom and sew the panels together with bias edges towards the back of the skirt. End up with bias to bias at the center back. Better swoosh.)
– (done) Cut out the circle for the waist of the skirt (next time I will cut the skirt panels out so that this step is unnecessary)
– (done) Make the short sleeves (two layers of linen)
– (done) Sew together the bodice (I used fully enclosed seams on the sides and back) (Next time: Sew it entirely together and try the fit)
– (done) Attach the short sleeves to the bodice (sew down on one side then flip and hand sew down the other side)
– (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) Add facing and eyelets to the bodice. Facing started out at 3″ wide, folded in half, attached to the bodice with a 1/2″ seam allowance which means that the facing strip is ~1″ wide on the bodice. (eyelets are set at 1/2 inch from the edge and 3/4 inches apart. Offset a la “The Zen of spiral lacing”)
– (done) Fingerloop a lace. (it needed to be at least 52″ long)
– (done) Hem the dress
– (done) Adjust the bodice fit on the side seams.

I finally got the eyelets done and was able to try on the dress… only to find out that even with removing 0.5″ from either side of the front opening.. the dress is way too loose. The plan is to snork it in at the side seams. It feels just silly to have to adjust a dress before I’ve ever worn it.. but then again.. it feels silly to wear a dress that’s just too big. Also of note: the next time I’m making a dress that will have eyelets I will first sew the entire bodice together including the front seam and pull it over my head to test the fit BEFORE completing all B-zillion of the eyelets.

Later: Because the dress is just a bit too big I snorked the bodice in at the sides. I started by pinching the seams and moving them 1/2″ further in. This gave me strange stress flattening of the boob.. so I had to go back and remove some of the snorking. Frankly if I had a friend who could have helped me pin it tighter the process might have gone a lot quicker. Regardless, I stitched a bit, tried the dress on, marked in chalk where I thought it needed to be tightened/loosened, took the dress off, then seam-ripped or stitched it some more. After a few tries I finally got the dress snorked in enough and fidgeted the seams on each side enough that it doesn’t deform my boobs.

That said.. I think in the snorking I may have twisted it. The lace doesn’t want to sit straight up and down. *sigh* Though.. I have been having back problems.. and in the front-facing and back-facing pictures my left shoulder -is- a lot higher than my right shoulder.. meh.. it could just be that I’m a little bent and the lace is perfectly straight.

New skirt cutting plan

Also, plan to cut skirt panels differently. Cut 9″ from edge top and bottom instead of corner to corner to save ~11″ of length and only lose a little bit of width.

Also, sew skirt panels together so that bias is towards the back of the dress (with center back being bias to bias) so the dress “flows” the same way on both sides. That will give me two flat edges at the center-front… and it will (I hope) hang less weird.

Lastly, I was lazy and used a straight reinforcement strip around the front edge and neck/sleeve of the dress instead of cutting out a bias strip. Under the eyelets it’s fine.. but I think at lease around the neck/sleeve it would work better if it was a bias strip. I may tear it off of this dress and replace it.


In early 2013 I gifted this kirtle to a friend of mine. It fit her nicely and she looks just smashing in it.

Progress pictures:

My 4-panel bodice pattern and short sleeve.

Fabric is 8 yards of IL19 Color: Crimson. Thread is Gutermann Color: 420

Sewing down the reinforcement strip around the front/neck edge

Eyelet positions marked on the inside with sharpie

Eyelets from the outside of the bodice

Eyelets from the inside of the bodice.

“Snorking up the sides” I’ve laid a white string over the line of stitches I added to the inside to get the dress to fit right. I removed about 1/2 inch at the seams from each side.

Fingerlooping a lace plus a bonus picture of His Evilness Emperor Loki the Kitty “helping”

From the front

Left side

From the back

From the right

Other Relevant Entries

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