14th-15th Century, kirtle

Burgundy wool cotte with cut-on bodice

Burgundy wool long-sleeved cotte with cut-on bodice started 11/6/2019. Paused for a while. Picked back up 1/8/2020. First worn 1/25/2020. Not yet finished (still needs lining in the body).

– This cotte will be constructed of burgundy summer weight wool interlined in the bodice with one layer of white heavier weight linen (4C22) and then with the full garment fully lined with medium weight linen (IL019). I plan to attach the interlining to the fashion fabric then sew the outer fabric together and prick stitch the seam allowance. Then I will use a whip stitch or felling stitch to attach the lining to the fashion fabric.
– This cotte will not have a waist seam. I’m aiming for an earlier dress style around the late 14th century/early 15th century before the advent of waist seams.
– This will use center front spiral lace (1/4″ from the edge, 3/4″ apart, offest)
– The two front panels will be cut on a fold so that the skirt portion is all of one piece.
– Neck opening will NOT use bias binding, I will attach a bias facing and fold the edges inward and cover the raw edges with my lining. This seems like an easier plan than just folding in the edges and herringboning down the seam allowance.
– This one will use an inverted box pleat at center back, and sides. The excess at the center front will be folded back to finish the skirt opening. This will allow me to get the width I need for my hips without requiring an overly large amount of skirt circumference.
– This will have full length attached sleeves with buttons on the lower arm


  • (done) Figure out pattern.
  • (done) Wash, dry and iron fashion fabric, lining and interlining. (5 yd fashion fabric and lining, 1 yd interlining necessary, 1 yd for facing).
  • (done) Cut out bodice interlining (white 4C22).
  • (done) Cut out fashion fabric (burgundy summer weight wool).
  • (done) Cut out lining (natural medium weight linen)
  • (done) Cut out bias facing 3.5″ x ~24″ for the center front (black medium weight linen. About 2 ruler widths)
  • (done) Cut out bias facing 3″ x ~48″ for around the neck opening.
  • (done) baste interlining to fashion fabric bodice portions on outside edges. Use care at the front edge so that the baste is very near the seam allowance so that it will not end up pierced by an eyelet. Iron it flat.
  • (done) Piece together skirt panels. prick stitch the seams open.
  • (done) Attach facing at front edge and neck to the outside of the garment. Fold facing back to form a finished edge. baste the folded edge down (to hold it in place). Iron the heck out of it.
  • (done) Add eyelets to the front opening.
  • (done) Sew cotte fashion fabric/interlining together at sides and back and shoulders on both the bodice and skirt portion of the dress.
  • (done) prick stitch all seams open
  • (done) Apply narrow bias facing to neckline (so that I keep a consistent edge of black on the visible edge of the garment). Stitch it to only the interlining.
  • (done) Go back and stitch the facing down to the interlining on the eyelet edge of the garment (which I should have done 5 steps ago when I added the facing in the first place).
  • (done) Remove basting stitch running along the facing strip (next the eyelets)
  • (done) Stitch box pleats at sides and center back down and add an extra stitch at the top to prevent this from ripping open.
  • (done) Finish the top of side and back inverted box pleat and affix pleats to interlining.
  • (done) Finish the top of the front opening
  • Add a hook and eye to keep it in place. (not sure if this is necessary)
  • (done) Remove basting stitch holding the bottom of the interlining to the fashion fabric.
  • (done) Cut out sleeve in fashion fabric
  • (done) Cut out sleeve in lining
  • (done) Sew fashion fabric to lining at the forearm. Clip, flip, and iron.
  • (done) Add button holes to sleeves.
  • (done) Close inner and outer sleeve fabrics. prick stitch seams of outer fabric down.
  • (done) baste armseye together.
  • (done) Sew sleeves to bodice.
  • (done) Fold sleeve and armseye seam allowance into the bodice and herringbone it down.
  • (done) Add buttons to sleeves.
  • (done)Hem cotte.
  • Attach lining to interior. Fold the edges of the lining into the garment. Position the lining to hide all of the interior raw edges and to cover the tops of the pleats. Fold the front edge of the lining so that it does not cover the eyelets. Use a whip stitch or felling stitch.

5 yds 60 inch wide Burgundy Wool Gabardine $28.30 ($5.99/yd) from Fabric.com (purchased April 2010)
IL019 Natural Softened – 100% Linen 4 yds $36.56 (purchased June 2019)
4C22 Bleached – 100% Linen 1 yd – ~$8 (purchased May 2018)
IL019 Black Softened – 100% Linen 1 yd + 1/2 yard cut into bias strips ($8.61/yd) (purchased January 2017)

I drafted my pattern and made this into a mockup of 4C22 heavy linen (7 oz from fabrics-store.com). I added a zipper at the center back and then futzed with the fitting. On the right side at 1/2″ from the edge you can see the original seam allowance that was included in the pattern draft. If I were planning to wear this over a supportive garment (already made well-fitting kirtle or bra) I could have stopped there.

Moving left you can see each of the iterations I have made on this as I futzed with the fit to get rid of wrinkles, bulges and stress lines. Note: I did lay on the floor at one point (to take gravity out of the equation) and pinned the front (which is much harder to do to yourself than I remember).

At this point I think I’m probably 98% there. That’s marked in red.

Right now I have a slight problem with a bit of side-boob which I think will be fixed by tweaking the side seam slightly.. and a weird stress wrinkle that I think will be fixed by moving the seam at the very bottom out to the edge of the seam allowance (and then adding more seam allowance on the final version).

Once I’m completely happy with this fit I’ll trim this to 1/2″ seam allowance and then transfer these updates back to my paper pattern.

I finished my futzing, trimmed the center front to 1/2″ seam allowance, transferred these changes to my paper pattern.

I then paused on this project to work on some men’s cotehardies.

Originally I thought I’d make this out of some gold silk faille from my stash but on further consideration I will use some burgundy wool instead.

I cut out the interlining (which btw is the last of the roll of 4C22 fabric. I’ll need to order more heavy linen), lining and wool for the body. I did not cut the sleeves. It occurs to me that I have not actually fit sleeves for this. It -should- use the pattern I posted for the men’s garment and used for my 12th Night sleeves.. but I think I’ll need to re-zipper my mockup and test out that theory before I cut into the wool. Regardless of the pattern, it looks like I’ll have enough of the lining and the wool for sleeves without having to buy additional fabric.

I marked the 1/2″ seam allowance on my interlining in pencil and then pinned it to my fashion fabric. I then basted the interlining to the fashion fabric in the middle of the seam allowance (so it won’t show when the garment is sewn together) with a single white thread. Technically I should use “weak white thread” but I only keep my normal sewing thread on hand so one strand of regular sewing thread is weak enough for me. I did also baste down the bottom of the interlining. When I’m done constructing the garment I’ll remove that basting. Tonight I finished basting one of the four dress panels.

Tonight I finished basting the interlining to the fashion fabric for the other three dress panels. I probably could have done more but The Witcher is so damned pretty (quite takes me breath away) I had to stop and admire it for a while which really slowed down my progress.

I pieced the front panel skirt pieces together and prick stitched the seams open. It looks like I cut the back piecings wrong. I’m mulling over how to fix that.
I held it up against my body in front of a mirror and it looks like even with the piecing being short overall the skirt is a bit long.. so I think it will not be a problem. I’m going for forge ahead and just use the pieces I have and hope/believe it will just work out in the end. If I’m wrong I’ll regret this decision and have to figure out a work around then.

I finished piecing the back skirt panels and prick stitched the seams open. I ironed the interlining/bodice portion and pushed/stretched it until the fashion fabric and interlining are the same size and function as a single piece of fabric.

I cut the bias facing from some black linen. I kind of wish I had some black silk on hand.. but I don’t .. and the colors of silk I do have on hand would not work for this garment.. and I’m terribly impatient to get it done so I’m just going to make do with reinforcing the eyelet area with ~2 extra layers of medium weight linen.

I used the width of one of my metal rulers (~1.75″) as a guideline for the bias strip width. After fussing with it, a single ruler width looked like it will be too narrow to accommodate the eyelets so instead I’ll used two ruler widths (3.5″) down the center front and a single ruler width around the rest of the neckline. I pinned the wider bias strips to the outside of the center front of the bodice and sewed this by machine at 1/2″ seam allowance. I then folded this back so that the seam creates the finished edge for the center front of the bodice. Lastly I basted the folded edge down on the inside. For the center front I’ll be adding eyelets so I’m going to see if I can get away without affixing the folded edge down on the inside of the garment. I can’t add the rest of the bias facing around the neckline until I sew the shoulders together. So I’ll wait on that. I do believe once that’s done I will need to herringbone down the folded edge of the smaller bias strip so it’s not flopping about.

I used a single white thread and basted through the bias strip to hold it in place. I poked a hole with my awl and attempted to use my eyelet magic faceplace on it to do the eyelet by machine. My machine was having none of it. It turns out that 4 layers of linen, 2 layers of wool and 2 layers of heavy linen interlining exceed its capacity. Meh. I really need to commission a machinist to make me a plate with a taller post.

Anyway I got 2.5 eyelets done by machine but it was a horrible wrestle and they just look untidy. Finally I admitted defeat and I’ll do the eyelets by hand. There are a total of 40 eyelets needed. Tonight I finished 6. 😐 This is going to be a slog.

Tonight I finished 20 of 40 eyelets (though I should go back and re-do the machine made two).

Finished the last of the eyelets and redid the two machine eyelets.

Sewed the garment together with 1/2″ seam allowance. One of the nice things is that since the eyelets are already done I could try it on. I LOVE the fit. I then prick stitched all of the seams(sides, back and tops of the shoulders) open.

I decided that instead of adding a black facing to the sleeves and then lining the sleeves in natural linen that instead I’ll just line the whole sleeve in black. This makes them a little bit easier to put together by removing a step. It does make the sleeves so that they can’t easily be altered.. but honestly I’m okay with that. Looking at what I have left to do I believe I’ll be able to wear the garment on Saturday if I get everything done except for lining the body. Because I added the facing on the front edge (and I’ll add a narrow facing on the neck edge) this looks very doable to me.

Tonight I tweaked my sleeve pattern to fit the armseye of the dress then cut the sleeves out of the wool and black linen. I then machine stitched around the forearm on each sleeve, clipped the corners, flipped this (so the seam allowance was on the inside) and added the button holes to the forearms. Finally on I stitched the upper arm together separately making it so the seam allowance for the wool/linen pieces will end up between the layers of the fabric.

I added a narrower bias strip around the neck line and stitched down (slip stitch to the interlining) almost all of the facing. I also prick stitched the seams on the upper arm portion of the sleeves.

I removed all of the visible basting (along the edge of the facing strip and around the bottom of the interlining) and stitched the box pleats at the sides and center back down. I slip stitched the facing along the front edge below the lace. Then I attached both sleeves. It’s starting to look a lot like a dress.

Added buttons to the sleeves. I went with the antique silver buttons.

I tried on the dress and had my husband mark the hem. I turned it under and whip stitched it in place (temporarily). It’s the quickest ugliest hand done hem I’ve ever done.
I want to do a padded hem but that will need to wait until after I add the lining and I need it to be hemmed before I wear it tomorrow. So ugly hem it is.
I also stitched the front slit closed a bit where it was too open.

Wearable (and not yet done) is beautiful.

– The sleeves are slightly too long along the inner elbow (~4 inches). I will adjust my pattern, remove the sleeves, adjust them and then re-add them.
– In these pictures I can clearly see that one of my hips is higher than the other which is also throwing my shoulders off. I’m working with my chiropractor to correct this. Just ignore it. :\
– I’m not going to lie.. I don’t love the cut on bodice. I love the shape I’m getting in the upper portion of this dress.. and the cut on bodice was fairly simple to put together.. but I like having a waist seam. I still think that it’s more flattering to my body shape to distribute the skirt across the whole waist rather than confine the excess to the sides and center back. Also a waist seam hides the bulges on my lower back (since the waist seam usually falls above those).

The Witcher (Netflix) A+. Warriors, elves, war, monsters. This lands somewhere between LoTR and D&D. The episodes are in a weird order timeline wise.. not chronologica.. but it flows as a good stroy. I’m re-watching now to make sure I caught everything from the screwy timeline. Rated R
Daybreak (Netflix) B. What if Ferris Beuller grew up to be a dick.. and what if the end of the world was narrated Ferris style and consisted of every single teen movie trope + zombies + nuclear bombs. That said, I keep having this feeling that any minute now this will be like “Sucker Punch” and we’ll find out that really Josh had a mental breakdown and he’s rocking frantically in a mental hospital while his crazy mind had cast all of his school (and teachers and principal) as characters in his unbelievable post-apocalyptic nightmare. Rated R
Zoom (Netflix) C+. Tim Allen, a former superhero, is pulled out of his civilian life to train a new group of super heroes. Team building, irreverent comedy, a bit predictable. Rated PG
Horns (Netflix) B. Ig (Daniel Radcliff) is accused of murdering his sweetheart. A preternatural who done it. One day he wakes up and he’s grown devil horns.. and now everyone feels the need to confess their sins to him. … It’s like Lucifer without the hottie as the devil himself (I’m sorry. Daniel Radcliff just does NOT do it for me). Still.. I watched it all the way through and was surprised by the wrap up but not by the ending. Rated R
Solo (Netflix) B. I liked this well enough the first time I saw it.. but it’s not very memorable. I really wanted this to be better. Well wait.. it’s a good enough movie.. but it’s not a cult classic that preaches universal truths that I feel the need to quote.. it’s just.. okay. Though interestingly.. Darth Maul shows up at the end as the head of a crime syndicate. It turns out this is now very interesting. If you remember the awful Episodes I, II and III. In one of them Darth Maul got cut in half and fell (seemingly) to his death. After watching the ending of the Mandalorian I did some digging about a certain item that showed up in that final episode. That digging turned up the fact that Darth Maul had not died.. and had something to do with The Mandalorians.. which makes Solo a bit more interesting. It’s definitely setting up more circumstances in the SWU…

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