Waisted Kirtle

15th century waisted kirtle


Once upon a very long time ago I made and wore a cotehardie. Unfortunately I didn’t think that cotehardies are particularly flattering on me. After the yellow cotehardie I wore a lot of basic tunics.. and finally started making German gowns. The bodice on German gowns is a lot shorter then the bodice needed for a cote. On my German gown the bodice ends at the bottom of my ribs. For the cote to look right I needed to bring the bottom edge down to my natural waist. That’s probably a 3″ difference. I’m awful bumpy below the ribs.. and in the German gowns I can camouflage that with the very high waist.. I’m not able to do that in the cote. Regardless after many years of -not- wearing a cotehardie I’ve decided to try it again only this time I want to do a 15th century waisted cotehardie.

In retrospect I think the issues with the yellow cotehardie mostly came because the skirt was fairly narrow.. and frankly I wasn’t that good at sewing.. so although the fit was adequate, it wasn’t great. Luckily, I’ve gotten better.

This time I’m planning to do a cotehardie (cote, kirtle, gothic fitted gown, gothic fitted dress, whatever you want to call it) with a waist seam. The addition of a waist seam will allow me to get a lot of added fullness in the skirt. I’ll add pleats to the back of the skirt to take up any excess (and to allow for sufficient flair over my hips). Lastly, I want to make this out of linen with short sleeves and an unlined skirt. Hopefully that will allow me to wear this at very hot events (eg: Pennsic) without overheating.

Research and Background

These dresses are seen in a lot of images by Flemish and French artists in the late 1400s.

Details to include:
– Supportive bodice with front, back and side seams.
– Spiral lace closure in the front that extends below the waist seam
– Waist seam at natural waist
– Rounded neckline front and back that has a reinforcement strip on the inside. (Though, if I was doing a strictly french fashion it looks like the front at least would be squared)
– Long sleeved chemise that barely peeks up above the neckline and comes to about knee height
– Short sleeves with pin on lower sleeves of a different color.
– Skirt pleated into the waistline. I plan to only have pleats in the back.
– Trapezoidal gored skirt.
– Belt worn at the waist, or, more comomnly, low on the hips
– White linen tailed cap
– Open hood

Inspirational Pictures

See Also:

Kirtles with a waistseam
Three kirtles illustrated by Rogier van der Weyden c. 1445-50.
15th Century Female Flemish Dress: A Portfolio of Images

Blue 15th Century kirtle with Trapezoidal Skirt Panels (finds from london)
The kirtle the medival dress of the 14th century

Will the Real Fifteenth Century Sleeve Please Stand Up?

Lara Corsets & Gowns: 15th Century Women’s Clothing During England’s War of the Roses

Robin Netherton: The Gothic Fitted Dress FAQ

The Hundred Years’ Wardrobe: A Sewing Experiment

Men’s and Women’s Work Clothing: A Portfolio of Images Simon Bening, The DaCosta Hours. A lot of working women images from 1515 with short-sleeves.

Tangible Daydreams: Contrasting gores in cotehardies
In My Lady’s Chamber: Contrasting gores in medieval dresses debunked

Dress Diaries

Black Waisted kirtle
Crimson Waisted kirtle
Cobalt Waisted kirtle
Mocha Waisted kirtle

Other Relevant Entries

15th Century Tailed Cap (aka: Flemish Kerchief)

1 thought on “15th century waisted kirtle

  1. You have saved my life! I started a dress three years ago, and then just recently, after hours and hours of research, discovered that it is not even period. I was so sad that I was going to have to throw out yards of velvet that had been given to me as a gift. But then I saw your post, and it was perfect! I am an early 1400s French persona, and plan on making many cotehardies. one thing I had wanted to make was a cotehardie of good material, like a brocade, silk, or velvet. But those are very expensive materials. After reading your waisted cotehardie post, I think I can repurpose the old dress to make a wasted cotehardie of velvet. Thank you so much!


    Colette des Trouvères, Kingdom of Caid

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