14th-15th Century, Sewing

Asphalt grey men’s cotehardie

Fearghus’ grey linen cotehardie started October 28, 2019. Finished January 3, 2020.

Now that I have a pattern I need to start thinking about how to put it together. I also need to keep in mind that I’m planning to teach this to a bunch of folks who just want a cotehardie and are not terribly interested in “perfectly period” methods of sewing this together. With that in mind I’ve decided to make a sampler of this using the quickest and easiest mostly by machine methods. In fact I’m even going to use (DUN DUN DUN!!!) a serger.

My goal here is to lay out the minimum steps needed to put this together and then hopefully to be able to compare this version to another one I’ll make later with more documentable methods.

I’ll follow the pattern posted here. I’ll use a serger to do the side, shoulder and most of the back seams. I’ll then flip this and use my usual machine set to 0.8 (it’s the needle offset setting on my Janome) to do a french seam to get a final of a half inch seam allowance (which was already included in the drafted pattern).

For the front seams and the back horseman’s slit I’ll attach a folded straight grain reinforcement strip in green 5-inches wide at each edge and the flip it to the inside and stitch it down (I may do this by hand because it will be less intrusive). On the front opening this will reinforce the place where I’ll be attaching the buttons (right inside of the edge). On the horseman’s slit this will add a sassy bit of color. Around the neck I’ll do the same thing with a bias strip (so that it fits better to the curve) green and 2.5-inches wide.

The sleeves will be closed with the same serger/french seam described above a seam at the 1/2″ seam allowance. I’m still up in the air about how I want to do the armseye. I’ll add the reinforcement strips at then end for the the buttons. I’ll hem the ends of the sleeve and the hem and be done.


  • (done) Finalize pattern
  • (done) Cut out grey linen body pieces
  • (done) Serge garment together (side, back to slit, shoulder)
  • (done) Flip, iron and french seam the serged edges
  • (done) Cut reinforcement strips for the front edges (5″ x 38″) and horseman’s slit (5″ x 20″).
  • (done) Cut bias strip for the neckline (2.5″ x 22″)
  • (done) Add reinforcement strip to the horseman’s slit (machine stitch at 1/2″). Flip it to the inside, iron it and attach it (slip stitch) to make a finished edge.
  • (done) Add reinforcement strips to the front edges (machine stitch at 1/2″), iron it, flip it and attach (slip stitch by hand) to make a finished edge.
  • (done) Center bias strip in the neckline and machine stitch at 1/4″. iron it, flip it and attach (slip stitch by hand) it to make a finished edge.
  • (done) Hem the bottom of the garment.
  • (done) Finalize sleeve pattern
  • (done) Cut sleeves out of grey linen
  • (done) Add reinforcement strip to the ends of the sleeves
  • (done) Hem the ends of the sleeves
  • (done) Close the sleeves
  • (done) Add eyelets for buttons to the end of the sleeves (buttons on bottom side of sleeve). Attach buttons using slick lace trick. I decided to just poke holes without the eyelet.
  • (done) Add buttonholes to the other side of the sleeves.
  • (done) Attach sleeves to the body of the garment (serge and then french at 1/2″)
  • (done) Add buttons to the front edge (his right side). Buttons stitched right at the edge of the fabric down to the top of the front slit.
  • (don) Add buttonholes to the other front edge (1/8″ from edge, 3/4″ apart)

IL019 ASPHALT Softened – 100% Linen 5 yds $48.40 (purchased January 2019)
IL019 EVERGREEN Softened – 100% Linen – 1 yd ~$9.55 (purchased June 2016)
Antique gold buttons 8mm true ball with metal shank (purchased from Etsy November 2019 $46.79 for 100 buttons)

I finished cutting out the body of the garment. I still need to figure out sleeve pattern.
I made a quick sample with some scrap fabric. I marked a 1/2″ seam allowance on the fabric. Then I serged that edge, flipped it so the serging was on the inside and set this up on my regular machine so that the folded outer edge lined up with the outside of my sewing foot. Then I used the “needle position” switch on my machine to move the needle until it lined up with the 1/2″ SA I’d marked at the beginning. For me on my Janome 6600 this is a setting of 0.8. I wrote that on the sampler in case I need a reminder. Using this setting I’m able to serge and then french the seam and feel fairly confident that I’m hitting fairly close to my half inch seam allowance.

I re-threaded the serger with matching grey thread :|.
Then I serged the side, shoulder and back (down to the slit) seams. Flipped the serged seams, ironed a crease and then frenched them all and ironed the seams again. I still need to figure out sleeve pattern.

I used my quilting tools and cut the reinforcement strips in green for the front edges, and slit. I was able to get one front strip and one slit strip out of each 5″ strip of 60″ wide fabric. I attached these to the garment and then realized that the bias strip at the neck was going to be hard to tack down. I removed all of these and decided to do the bias strip on the neck at half the width of the front edge and horsemen’s slit facings.

Figuring it was the easiest to do I started with the facing on the horsemen’s slit. I attached the facing at the horsemen’s slit in the back (1/2″ machine sewn seam allowance). I ironed it, flipped it and finished the top end with a 45 degree fold forming a nice point. I then stitched down all the edges with a slip stitch.
I cut the existing 5″ wide bias strip (which had previously been attached at the neck) in half, folded it lengthwise and machine sewed that to the neckline. At a 1/2″ seam allowance the strip was not quite long enough to cover all of the excess from itself (insert brief bout of cursing). Rather than cut down the seam allowance I decide to remove the bias strip (again) and re-add it with a 1/4″ seam allowance. This went smoothly.
Since I had previously sewn on the facing strips for the front edge of the garment AND I’d cut them at 45″ to connect them to the previous bias strip NOW I found that the pieces cut for the front edge just weren’t long enough. After another brief bout of cursing I pulled out my quilting tools (again) and cut two more 5″ wide strips for the front edges. I folded them lengthwise, ironed them and then I sewed the onto the front edge with a 1/2″ seam allowance. Finally I ironed the whole thing, pinned the hell out of it and slip stitched the free edges down.
Happily in the middle of all of this I saw this image on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Lautanauhat/posts/2576425609107601
This reminded me that I don’t HAVE to make button holes.

Discussion on Elizabethan Costuming about this topic: https://www.facebook.com/groups/29374273995/permalink/10153464771178996/
Another blog post on the topic: https://indemejarecristi.wordpress.com/2015/01/25/the-metal-button-issue/

I also found “100 antique gold 8mm round buttons with a shank” on Etsy. The buttons are in the mail and my fingers are crossed that they’re wonderful.

Laid out and cut out sleeves for the mockup and attached it. I’ll check the fit tomorrow.

I checked the fit on the sleeves and my husband complained that the mockup was just a bit tight. I’ll be easing the tightest point on this garment as far out as I can in the seam allowance and I’ll be generating a new pattern/mockup to try out a slightly larger measurement.
Also I think on my initial sleeve pattern my S curve is too S-y. I’ll flatten that out to give him higher mobility. Back to the drafting board.

Hemmed the bottom edge(hand slip stitched ~1″ rolled hem).

12/1 – 12/4/2019
I tried out a few iterations on my sleeve pattern before settling on something that works well for mobility and matches the late 14th century images (tight/buttoned on the fore arm, loose on the upper arm, allow mobility to throw shadow flat-snaps). Which reminds me, I need to draw that up and publish the pattern. Soon.

Cut out sleeves in grey linen. Cut out green reinforcement strips for the ends of the sleeves(5″ wide on the straight grain).

Attached reinforcement strips to the ends of the sleeves (1/2″ machine stitch on each side of the forearm) then I finishing them by hand. I stitched down all the edges with a slip stitch. At the elbow I folded the strip at 45 degrees but did not yet attach it. I sewed the rest of the sleeve closed and then slip stitch the 45 degree down over top of the serged/frenched seam at the elbow. This made the transition cleaner but it’s still a bit gnarly. I think I prefer full linings.

I attached 4 buttons and then remembered I wanted to run the shank through and eyelet and attach them with a cord on the back. Meh.

I began the day looking for examples of button loops used instead of button holes. That was a whole lot of spinning wheels for no actual pay off. There are examples of it but mostly it’s confined to the top 2-3 buttons on the collar or something more Turkish/middle eastern. So okay fine. Button holes it is.
Later at the end of the day I made up a sampler and tried out different button hole placements. I like the button hole that’s set ~1/8″ from the edge of the fabric with buttons at 3/4″ apart.

I stitched up all of the button holes on one sleeve (18 buttons per sleeve at 1/8″ from the edge of the fabric, 3/4″ apart).

I setup a test on my sampler strip and confirmed the shank on my buttons is almost too short to use the cool eyelet+cord on the back trick (eg. https://handcraftedhistory.blog/page/3/) for putting on the buttons. Almost.. but with a bit of wiggling I can get this to work by using a piece of 1/4″ wide linen tape to hold the buttons in place. This means for the sleeves I’ll add eyelets for the buttons 1/4″ in from the edge. On the front opening I’ll mount the buttons directly right at the edge of the fabric (since I need the extra width on this version. On the next version (where I corrected the waist measurement) I will mount the front buttons via eyelets 1/4″ from the front edge as well).

I need to stop work on this grey cotehardie and start work on one of the three garments on my “todo before 12th night” list. 

I hate to leave a project half finished.. but I hate to miss my deadlines even worse. I needed to work on the grey one to figure out the pattern and work through how to put this together.. but finishing it is NOT critical to the other garments.. so I’ll leave it half finished and move on to the next garment.

Finished adding button holes to the sleeve and the center front of the garment.

Attached the sleeves to the body (serged with wrong sides together then stitched at 1/2″ seam allowance to make a french seam).

Fearghus finished adding all the buttons down the center front and on the sleeves. This garment is now done. It ended up that this was a bit too small for Steiner to wear so no one wore this at Twelfth Night, but it fits Fearghus so he can wear it later this year when it gets too warm for a wool cotehardie. Done is beautiful.

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