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.**

Terms

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.

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