Wednesday, March 30, 2016

14th Century Blue Cotehardie and Gold Kirtle

 Here's a lengthy post full of pictures of my new blue silk cotehardie worn over a gold silk kirtle. I started working on it about ten days ago, and about half of the days were spent letting the hems hang- the whole outfit took only a few days.

First up is the gold kirtle. It's made from a buttery, smooth dupioni silk, fully lined in white cotton. The pattern is my body block, with two rectangles in front and two in back, with four gores- one on each side, one front, one back. This makes for a decently full hem.  The sleeves have five small gold metal buttons at the cuff, and like they did occasionally back then, they must be buttoned to fit. The kirtle laces at the right side with ten eyelets, ladder laced.

The kirtle was made to be worn primarily under a "gown" layer- a surcote, cotehardie, or sideless surcote. I have a few over layers in the planning stage for SCA 50 Year and other events, so I got to work to get this one done so I can make the stuff to go over it.

This kirtle can be worn on its own, however, with some accessories, if it's hot out but you still want to look dressed-up. If I wear it alone, I can put on my black leather belt (with gold mounts, strap end, and buckle), black and gold pouch, and my black velvet fillet. A veil would be appropriate as well. The belt was assembled by me with some assistance from my friend Paul (great way to introduce a person to the SCA- hand them some pliers!): we put the buckle, strap end, and 14 mounts on the leather, which I thought I would always be too lazy to do and just buy a pre-made belt. I would make more in a heartbeat! It wasn't difficult at all.

 And now for the cotehardie. This one is made of a rather stiff, dark slate blue silk dupioni. It is unlined because I wanted to be able to wear it on hot days over the kirtle and not be too warm, and the silk is a bit more thick than I have often found- it holds its shape very well. The pattern is identical to the gold kirtle, but opens in the front and has short sleeves using the same pattern as my long sleeves. The buttons are gold metal to match the kirtle buttons.

 The cotehardie can be worn "dressed down", as shown here with the black leather belt, fillet, and a fine linen D-shaped veil. It's still quite fancy, and I rather love the black accents with the blue, likely due to the fact that the blue silk is slate blue shot with black.

 Gotta do the effigy pose to best show off your sleeve buttons!
 I look a smidge smug here which I why I have to force myself to show teeth when I smile! It's a good view of the fit.
 Now if I want to dress it up and make it as fancy as I can, I wear my gold plaque belt, add a gold and enamel pin (both from Raymond's Quiet Press), and a coronet over a silk veil. The coronet I'm wearing here has been graciously loaned to me by Her Excellency Katya until I have a custom one made.
 Back view- the back gores on the cotehardie and the kirtle are pieced down the center, a very historical choice. It takes an extra minute to line up the extra seam but it's worth it! Also, I'm happy to see the short sleeve back seam line up exactly with the long sleeve seam.
 Some "historical-fies", as I call them!

 Here is a closer view of my hairstyle. I start with two pigtail braids behind the ears, loop them in front of the ears over the temples, and pin them at the crown, where they overlap a bit, and I tuck the tails under the opposite braid. I'm still working on improving my hairstyles, and this one can be done quickly. It is a style often seen in period paintings.
 Here's a detail shot while the outfit was in progress.


13 comments:

  1. Perfection. Do armscyes give you any hastles?

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    1. Surprisingly... no! I know there are people who do crazy math and measurements for the back-seamed sleeves, and I'm too lazy to do that. I drafted up a sleeve a couple years ago with the string method: take a string the length of your armscye, lay it out on pattern paper, and make the shape with that, then draw over where the string was. I use this pattern for all my earlier-than-16th cent sleeves, modified if the armscye ends up a different size than the pattern, which rarely happens because I use the same body block pattern for all the dresses.

      However, I'm sure the experts would tell me that my sleeves are wrinkled and pull incorrectly, and to that I say: they feel fine when I wear them, I have full range of motion, can carry stuff, etc. No issues for me.

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  2. I just found your blog today; this is stunning! I've loved period costumes since I was a child, but I'm only just beginning my foray into sewing them; as an empty nester I have to have something to play with :)

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    1. Thanks Jeannetta! I started sewing only 7 years ago, and I ended up leaving my "real" job to do this!

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  3. How do you go from measurements to block?

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    1. Usually I will take the measurements, draw it out on wax paper with a marker, then cut it out with a big seam allowance in mock-up fabric. I tend to try stuff on A LOT when I do mock ups, make tiny adjustments, then try it on again. After I'm satisfied with the fit, I will take apart the mock up, lay it out on wax paper, and trace around the edges. I rarely do full draping (where you take fabric and pin it onto a body and cut off the excess). I'm just not super great at it, so I do measurements onto paper, then fabric, then a million try ons. Hope that helps!

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  4. Beautiful! Do you have any suggestions on where to buy silk? The ones you wear are so nice.

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    1. Hi Diane! I buy most of my silks online, usually from Ebay or Etsy. It takes a while to wade thru the cheap crap but I have some sellers that I trust after buying from them in the past. Whenever I travel, I try to find time to hit a . local fabric store or two, to find unique stuff that I can't get locally (I live in Bozeman, and we have a Joann's and some quilting stores). I have found most brick-and-mortar fabric stores to be pointlessly overpriced, though, which is why I tend to buy online.

      Puresilks.biz- they're in India, but they have nice quality and great prices
      Renaissancefabrics.com (taffetas are glorious, also nice linens and wools)
      silkbaron.com (avoid their dupioni as it shreds when sewn, their taffeta is great)
      prismsilks.com (find their colors that they have on sale, check the pics closely and avoid their really slubby dupioni)

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  5. Lovely! If I happen to see you wearing this at 50 year I apologize now but I would love to be a creeper to get an in person look at your craftsmanship. Such a great fit.

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    1. I will be wearing both garments at 50 year! I should be wearing the gold kirtle on Sunday June 19 all day and the blue cotehardie on Wednesday evening, unless I can wear it during the day if it's not sweltering (I hate getting the silks all sweaty!). Please come talk to me :)

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  6. Thank you very much, Jane. That will definitely make a difference!

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  7. Thank you very much, Jane. That will definitely make a difference!

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