Sewing, Textiles & Costume
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Making a 1360s Medieval gown

Making a 1360s gown thedreamstress.com

I’ve been in love with second-half-of-the-14th century fashion ever since 2015, when I made my first 1360s gown.

Between life in general, the demands of my job, and Scroop Patterns, I’ve never managed to make another one, until now!

A woman is wearing a yellow kirtle and blue linen surcoat. Her red-blond hair is mostly covered by a white wimple and veil. She looks to the right.

I bought some beautiful vintage yellow wool at Fabric-a-Brac in Wellington back in 2017, and knew it would be perfect for a 1360s gown, and that there was exactly enough.

Back in 2020 my local costuming friend group decided to do Medieval, so I helped a bunch of them make custom patterns based on the techniques I used for my original gown, and I started one of my own.  I got it done as far as sleeves, and wore it sleeveless for an event at Zealandia, but only managed to finish it in October this year, just in time for our annual historical retreat.

Here’s a quick photo essay of the making process.  I used all the same resources I used for my first dress.

The back panels, with the back gusset set in:

Making a 1360s gown thedreamstress.com

And from the wrong side:

Pressing your seams is very important for a good result!  My main seams are machine sewn.  My work is so demanding of my hands that I have to be careful about how much handsewing and machine work I do.

And here’s the back with the side gores attached:

Making a 1360s gown thedreamstress.com

And the front, with half of the front gore attached, and a strip of linen reinforcing for the front lacing pinned in:

Making a 1360s gown thedreamstress.com

Catching down the front reinforcing:

Making a 1360s gown thedreamstress.com

Please note that I an NOT an expert in Medieval garment construction, and did not do the research to make sure that every stitch I used was documented for the places and ways in which I used them.

More reinforcing of the front strip.  There’s a narrow cord run down the front edge and held in with prickstitches to support the front lacing.

Making a 1360s gown thedreamstress.com

Making a 1360s gown thedreamstress.com

Making a 1360s gown thedreamstress.com

Working on my lacing holes:

Making a 1360s gown thedreamstress.com

Making a 1360s gown thedreamstress.com

I’ve done a little series of knots around each lacing hole before moving on to the next one, so that if the thread wears out and breaks, the stitching is still secured.

Making a 1360s gown thedreamstress.com

Stitching down the neckline.  I’m really not sure if a herringbone stitch is accurate here, so do not imitate it without doing your own research if you care about accuracy!

Making a 1360s gown thedreamstress.com

And that’s the point at which the gown stalled, because I misplaced my medieval sleeve pattern (I’m convinced I lent it to a friend), and did not have the energy to re-draft another one at that moment.

Finally in August of this year I decided I really needed to finish this gown because we were having a Medieval day at this years historical retreat, and my original Medieval dress is…snug.

So, I made lots and lots of buttons using the same cloth button making technique I used for my first dress.

Making a 1360s gown thedreamstress.com

Making a 1360s gown thedreamstress.com

Making a 1360s gown thedreamstress.com

And then braved another bout of sleeve patterning.

I cheated.  I took the photograph of my old sleeve pattern, scaled it based on the width of my floorboards, traced it off, and made a toile based on that.

Five toiles later, I had a workable sleeve that juuuuuuuust fit on my remaining fabric, with a little piecing (piecing is period!).

Making a 1360s gown thedreamstress.com

Sewed that up, and reinforced the sleeves openings with linen strips:

Making a 1360s gown thedreamstress.com

Making a 1360s gown thedreamstress.com

Making a 1360s gown thedreamstress.com

Then it was on to buttonholes.

Making a 1360s gown thedreamstress.com

This is where I made a mistake.  I started my buttonholes on the flight back from Hawai’i to NZ after a family trip home.  I just guestimated at buttonhole spacing.  I got it wrong, and had to add back in other buttonholes, so my spacing varies, and I ended up with two more buttons on one sleeve.

Making a 1360s gown thedreamstress.com

I mostly used La Cotte Simple’s tutorial.  Matsukaze Workshop has two great blog posts on different buttonhole techniques through the ages (second one here) that are super helpful for understanding how they change over time.

Making a 1360s gown thedreamstress.com

I’m working with vintage silk buttonhole twist.  The number of buttons and buttons ended up being determined by how much thread I had!

Making a 1360s gown thedreamstress.com

Then it was time to sew on the buttons.

Making a 1360s gown thedreamstress.com

I just love making their little stems.  There’s something so satisfying about turning the buttons into little cartoon trees attached to the dress!

Making a 1360s gown thedreamstress.com

Making a 1360s gown thedreamstress.com

And we have sleeves!

Making a 1360s gown thedreamstress.com

Making a 1360s gown thedreamstress.com

And a full dress!

Medieval mischief thedreamstress.com

I still need to take photos of the dress without my surcote on.  I’ll do that once I’ve had time to walk off the post holiday midriff snuggness!  (and also once it stops being so hot.  It’s a little muggy at the moment for a wool dress…)

A woman is wearing a yellow kirtle and blue linen surcoat. Her red-blond hair is mostly covered by a white wimple and veil. She looks to the right.

I also feel that the sleeves may be a tiny bit long from the upper arm to the elbow, so I may see if I can remove them from the dress and shorten them at the armscythe.  Maybe…

 

10 Comments

  1. This is GLORIOUS those sleeves and the tiny tree buttons, so fabulous.
    Also A+ for understatement that is is a we bit too muggy and warm here!! <3

  2. nofixedstars says

    it’s just lovely, and i adore the glowing yellow colour especially with the blue surcote and the green hood. and i agree…there is something so pleasing about the little buttons marching down the sleeves.

  3. Sara McDermott says

    I was admiring this last night, when my husband crept up and exclaimed “It’s a pod of peas!”

    He agrees that the dress is absolutely wonderful, sleeve-pods and all.

    Were the sleeves inspired by the Moy gown at all?

  4. MariekeW says

    The dress looks wonderful, especially the button rows. I also enjoyed the casual photo bombing by your beautiful kitty.

  5. Mme. Homebody says

    Felicity Kitty!

    Those buttons are just adorable and wonderful. And you got the sleeves to fit with that sleek “Is it really buttons or did she get sewn in?” effect. Thanks for sharing this!

    Unrelated aside: I must have that green hood. I must have that pattern and that shade of green. Sigh. Another project file begins…

    • thehistoricalfabricstore.comthehistoricalfabricstore.comIsn’t she the best! And thank you! I do like a good sleeve fit. I actually had to let them out because my first attempt was SO fitted you could have seen it if I’d gotten a mosquito bite on my arm

      Isn’t the hood fabulous? And that colour! We all want it indeed. There’s various medieval hood patterns on the internet, and I’m 70% sure the fabric is from here:

      https://www.thehistoricalfabricstore.com/wool

      (something in the slightly more reasonable 290kr range, rather than the eyewatering 690kr range)

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