Just a bit off the sides

Sneaky, sneaky, sneaky.

Pictured here is the amount of fabric I removed from both sides of ONLY the front pattern piece of the bodice that took it from “filling in the cone in a not entirely flattering manner” and “actually working as a flattering and supportive bodice”. Honestly I’m a bit gobsmacked that removing that little bit from each side was enough. The sliver is at most 1/4″ wide in the center. That little adjustment made to ONLY the front pattern piece suddenly made my breasts stay up where they’re supposed to be. Color me surprised.

When I tried the pattern on I also realized the L value (46) is too long so I’ll be iterating this one more time with a shorter L value. When I’d bend to the side there was about 2″ of bodice below the bend point. I mathed it and figured out that I’d need to use a Bara tape of about 40″ long to end up with an L that caused the bodice to end at/above my bend point.

Starting with an L of 40, I then fiddled with the calculation Mr. Gnagy offered in his book and feel I may have backed into the way Bara tapes should be made for women.

The calculation in the book starts with your height and then subtracts 9 inches to get the “Cloak length”. All the rest of calculations are based on this. I suspect that since women’s garments are floor length it may be that you have to use the full length rather than the cloak length when building patterns for women. When I omit this subtraction I end up with a final value of L=38.6 which would easily round to 39.. which is comfortably close to 40 for me to call that good.

“Yes, but where do my boobs go?” Part 2

After much thrashing about I’ve finally landed on a “Low-neck bodice” pattern that’s close to fitting me. Close.. but not quite there.

Our story so far: (see also Part 1) I need a new kirtle. I’ve lost 50 lbs and my old kirtles are just not supportive any more. I don’t want to wear a modern bra under my kirtle so I just need to knuckle down and make a new one. Rather than going the easy route and doing what I’ve done before I decided to use the bara method described by Mathew Gnagy in “The Modern Maker Vol. 1: Men’s Doublet” and hints dropped by Mr. Gnagy on his facebook page about how to do this with a woman’s low-neck bodice(here). Then I ran into issues.

The bara method involves using graded tapes which are measured to the clients specific size. In this case it looks like I’ll need C (chest), W (waist) and L (length).

In “The Modern Maker” book he gives a graph which tells you how to setup the L based on your height. According to the book my L would be 34″ since I’m 5’5″ tall. Using this tape as my L for my initial patterns I ended up with a bodice pattern that was impossibly short. The “waist” of the bodice was barely coming down to my bra strap. I expected the waist to fall at my natural waist so I decided to use a longer measurement for the L value. After experimentation I ended up using an L of 46″. Either I’m completely off base and my new kirtle will have a much lower waist line than the period patterns.. or (hopefully) he’ll explain in the next book how I’m actually supposed to calculate this for a woman. Regardless I plan to use this longer value for L, at least until I learn better.

Initially when I measured for C I measured my bust over a super-supportive sports bra. This gave me a measurement of 46″. That is, with no compression applied by the tape it would take 46″ of fabric to exactly skim my already supported figure. When I used a 46″ bara tape and turned this into a sample bodice I found that 46″ was impossibly loose and would NOT work as a supportive garment. I went back and re-did my measurements and found that pulling the tape tight across my bust (as tight as I’d like the bodice to be) my new tape was 40″. I made a sample using this measurement and found it to be a bit too tight. This caused my bust to practically burst out of the neck line. I then backed this off to 41″ and find that I like the fit of that better.

Initially I measured my waist (for W) much the same way I measured for C (loose). Initially my W was 41. This, as with the C value above, was much too loose to actually be supportive. Especially when I reduced the C to 40/41. After a few iterations on the pattern I settled on using 38″ for W. This is as small as I can compress my natural waist comfortably.

So.. now that you’re all caught up. I have a bodice that’s conic and almost supportive. Sadly it’s not yet REALLY supportive. I think if I was in my 20s and had firm perky boobs I’d be all set to go. Sadly.. I’m in my 40s.. and perky is a thing of the past. Now, especially with my recent weight loss, my boobs are… what is the word which is the opposite of “dense”? … I’m going to go with malleable. Given a conic bodice.. and no other restriction.. my malleable boobs are filling in the cone in a not entirely flattering manner.

So, ok. I mulled this over for a night. I can see two possible solutions.
Either I need to fit the pattern more specifically to my shape.. and remove a bit from the sides such that my bosom will be unable to head south towards my belly button OR I need to size-down the C and W measurements 1 more inch.. and then use stretching of the pieces to encourage my bosom to stay up.

I went back to Mr. Gnagy’s bodice pattern and laid a ruler over the side seam for the front and finally noticed that’a not actually a straight edge. It’s subtly curved.

Posted by The Modern Maker on Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Digging deeper I stumbled on this post on Mr. Gnagy’s facebook page from a year ago.

Posted by The Modern Maker on Thursday, May 12, 2016

If you look at the side seam you see that this is not a straight line from the top to the bottom. Instead there is an accommodation for boobs at the top of the pattern. So.. now I have a plan I will go and iterate my pattern some more.

“Yes, but where do my boobs go?”

As I mentioned I’m very excited to try out Mathew Gnagy’s methods and apply that to a late-15th/early 16th century kirtle. That said.. I will need back out some information from “how they did it in the 17th century” to make sure the garment I’m creating is as true to my period as I can make it.

Juan de Alcega’s 1589 tailors’ pattern book

F.59a – “Kirtle and low cut bodice of silk”

Mathew Gnagy has a version of this which is slated to be included in his next book (due out by the end of the year).

Being presented at Invocation of the Beltan Memorial Tourney as Mistress Sylvie. Photo by Joel the Brewer.

I’m terribly excited about this because of the super narrow straps that go over the arm. Very late in the Hannah dress project I realized that my neckline was incorrect for the period (1488-1515) and location (Brittany) I was trying to reproduce. I had honestly never paid such close attention to getting the time/place right on a garment before and doing so suddenly brought up that I’d gotten a detail totally wrong. Well, ok, mostly wrong. The neckline I’d used would be correct for a middle/lower class gal from Brittany but the upper-class gals were wearing the much narrower straps.

Alcega (and by extention, Mathew Gnagy’s) pattern has this very narrow strap. I buzzed about with eagerness to reproduce this before that little voice in the back of my head cleared its throat and forced me to consider the sides of the bodice. This bodice is conic. The sides are absolutely straight and have no indication that the bodice would be fitted to cup/support the breasts. Instead this appears to use the much more 17th century idea of shaping everyone to be a cone. It looks like the breasts will fill the cone and there will be no give in the pattern to hold the breasts up.

I spent about a day mulling this over.

Either I’m wrong.. and all my efforts at “fitting” bodices has been wasted effort.. or I’m right.. and they did something different (which eventually morphed into this conic shape).

So ok.

Alcega’s pattern book “Libro de Geometria, Pratica Y Traca” (Book of the Practice of Tailoring– Measuring and Marking Out) by Juan de Alcega, printed in Madrid in 1589. This details Spanish patterns. Much later time period, very different location.

I started by skimming “Tudor Tailor” and “The Queen’s Servants”. Both of those are focused on “English” dress styles later than I’m aiming for.. and both of those use the “conic” layout for the bodice.

Next I skimmed through “Drei Schnittbücher“. These patterns are from tailoring manuals from about 1590 from Upper Austria. Jackpot. Four of the dress patterns include an indication of fitting for the breast. Coincidentally, they all show the shaping happening on only the center front seam. These are contemporary to Alcega.. and still in the wrong location.

Finally I skimmed through my pin board “(black) velvet hat, Europe 1488-1515” and honestly I just don’t know. There’s a lot of pictures there that look conic. There are a few that don’t.

Well, so okay. I guess my previous efforts have not been wasted.. but this time I’m going to try out a new style of bodice for my next kirtle. We’ll see how that turns out.

The continuing pursuit of a better kirtle

Someday I want my garb to hang like a well made suit.”
– Posted by me on Facebook Feb. 5, 2017.

Un traje para Pitti Uomo 89

Posted by Sastrería Serna on Wednesday, March 30, 2016

I’ve often joked that every time I fit myself for a new self-supportive kirtle I lose 50 lbs (friends have also remarked that if that really worked then they would never stop fitting themselves for new kirtles). This time is a little bit different in that the reason I’m doing a new fitting is because I am currently down about 25 lbs from where I was when I made Hannah “Brown” kirtle and it’s starting to no longer work as a “supportive” garment. See previous iteration at In pursuit of a better kirtle.

It’s been about a year and a half since I made the last dress and despite the fact that I haven’t been posting much here (and I haven’t been actively creating things from the early 16th century) I’ve still been reading quite a bit of very interesting and illuminating books and since I’ve been distracted with other eras (6th c. Kentish Anglo-Saxon/10th c. Norse) the ideas have had quite a bit of time to marinate. So when I finally came back around to wearing early 16th century garments and finally got to the point where I need to make a new 16th century kirtle the ideas that had been mostly in the back of my mind sprang to the front and demanded attention.

Foremost among those is the thought that “I’ve done it all wrong”. To be fair, I did what seemed logical (given no other guidance) but under new light the old ways were.. well wrong. The thought exercise goes like this: “If I’d done the previous dresses ‘right’ then I would be able to adjust the fit of the garment so that it works for me over a wider range of weights. BUT, since the method is ‘wrong’ instead I have to create a whole new garment to adjust the fit.” I was aware that my previous method of creating the kirtles was not very tolerant of size changes.. and for the most part I’ve lingered in the neighborhood around the original size so that the dresses have been usable for about the last 5 years. Not bad.. but I could have done better. Funny enough, the “better” way to do it was probably the more period way too. I’m not 100% certain on that.. but all signs point to it.

The primary influence here was Mathew Gnagy‘s book “The Modern Maker Vol. 1: Men’s Doublets“. I resisted buying this book for a long time since my husband has no interest in wearing a late period doublet.. and the pattern considered here is a 17th century doublet. It’s out of period for the SCA.. and I just didn’t see how this was going to be useful. Boy was I wrong-ish. Mathey Gnagy comes from a bespoke background. This is the methods use by super-high end tailors to make stunning modern suits. Mr. Gnagy has taken his knowledge as a high end tailor and reviewed “period” garments and then written a book detailing the steps you need to go through to get the proper silhouette with traditional tailoring techniques. It’s all the things I wanted to know about “how did they do it” beyond basics questions that no one was writing about. Reading this book made me super anxious for him to publish the next two books he’s committed to write (Pattern Manual: 1580-1640 due by end of 2017 and Women’s Kirtle coming up after that).

This book led me to “17th-Century Men’s Dress Patterns” which was just published this year. After I received that book and read over it I found out that they had already published another book with Women’s patterns. Both of these are fabulous additions to a late period recreation library.

I’m not completely certain that all of the methods shown in these books were used before the 17th century, but it seems reasonable that some of them were. These types of things did not spring like Athena from the head of Zeus, fully formed in the 17th century. I’m fairly certain that some form of these methods was used earlier than that.

In short the method is to create the garment with the outer fabric and the interlining and sew this all together (seams, eyelets, binding, etc) and then attach the lining in such a way that the lining could be easily removed in order to make alterations to the garment. Reviewing the patterns I’ll also need to change the shape to be more period correct for the late 15th century (more shallow point/no point at the bottom of the bodice). Sadly, because Mr. Gnagy’s other books aren’t out yet I’m having to extrapolate both from the 17th century way of doing things.. and the “men’s” way of doing things. So, since the “right” books aren’t yet available (and I totally could not afford to participate in Mr. Gnagy’s Kirtle workshop earlier this year) I will again be making my best guess.. but this time I hope it’s a better guess.


Braun Melanie, Luca Costigliolo, Susan North, Claire Thornton, and Jenny Tiramani. 17th-Century Men’s Dress Patterns 1600-1630. London: Thames & Hudson, 2017. Print.
Gnagy, Mathew. The Modern Maker Vol. 1: Men’s Doublets. Charleston SC: Printed by creativespace.com, 2014. Print.
Johnson, Caroline, The Queen’s Servants: Gentlewoman’s dress at the accession of Henry VIII, United Kingdom: Fat Goose Press, 2011. Print.
Tiramani, Jenny, Claire Thorton, Luca Constigliolo, Armelle Lucas, and Susan North. Seventeenth-Century Women’s Dress Patterns Book One. London: V&A Publishing, 2011. Print.

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

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

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.

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 Fabric.com. 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 Fabric-store.com 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 Fabric-store.com). 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)