Many people find cotton to be an economical substitute to linen and wool. If you choose to use cotton, you will be happier in pure cotton than in polyester-cotton blends. In general, a woven geometric pattern that is symmetrical will look believable. During the middle ages, colors varied greatly, so don't worry too much about that as long as they are colors that can be made by natural means. I recommend that you stay away from florescent and pearlized colors.
Take the fabric and fold it in half from selvage to selvage then fold it in half lengthwise. (A selvage is the finished edge of the fabric).
Use chalk and the shirt, folded in half lengthwise, to draw the outline of the tunic on the fabric as shown. Cut out the outline.
Create the keyhole neckline by measuring around your neck and adjusting the circle shape until you have one that looks like the diagram below. It is also important to determine the depth of the slit in front. Take the difference between your neck measurement and your head measurement and divide in half. This is the minimum amount of slit that you will need to get the opening over your head. You may make the slit longer if desired. Draw the neck opening on the fabric, centering as shown. Be very careful to cut the opening and the slit along the grain of the fabric.
Finish the neckline edge any way you prefer. You may create a facing, or a more period method would be to bind the neckline edge with bias tape. Start the bias tape at the center back or at the bottom of the slit.
Attach whatever trim is desired, now, while the garment is flat. Good choices of location for trim is around the neck and at the arm bicep or sleeve edge. Mostly it seems that the hems were not embellished in the middle ages. Choices of patterns for trim can include just about anything that doesn't look too modern such as diamonds, circles, squares, rectangles, elaborate birds and beasts. Don't use animals or flowers that look too realistic. Stay away from anything obviously made wiht mylar, pearls, or pearlized colors.
Sew the side seams together.
Hem the garment. Be sure that the fullness at the sides of the body is rounded so that the hem does not hang down unevenly.
One of the most useful thing to own is some kind of headwear. Not only does it protect your head from the sun or the cold, but it keeps off random dirt and helps prevent hair tangles.
Only very rarely would an adult be seen without some type of hat. Coifs are wonderful for keeping the head warm, or for absorbing sweat under a helmet. Coifs can be made from linen, wool, or to save money, from cotton. This pattern is for the pre-1500 style that is one or two pieces.
Fold a piece of white linen or cotton in half. The edges should stop at the bottom of your ears. Have a friend pin the fabric along the top and back of your head to make it snug. Sew on the pinned line. Trim off the peak and add ties.
After 1500 the 3-piece coif became more popular. (That pattern is below.) This design eliminates the wrinkles at the top of the head by having a strip that runs from the forehead to the nape of the neck. It is fairly self explanatory.
Women's veils were circles of white cloth (usually linen) held on with bands of the same fabric. Use opaque lightweight fabric. Sometimes veils were square and used as a shawl over the tops of the shoulders, but for a beginning veil I recommend a round veil, about 1' in radius (2' in diameter). The bands that hold the veil on are thin strips, about 1" wide, and about a foot and a half long. Fasten the first one with a straight pin under your chin and passing over the top of your head, just forward of your ears. Pin the next one across your forehead, circling your head parallel to the ground. Fasten it also to the chin band where they cross. The veil is then pinned to the bands at the center front, center top, and the sides where it lies over the crossed bands over your ears.
Belts during this time were not very complicated. A belt a few inches longer than your waist, with a simple buckle is all that is needed. The extra length of belt is then knotted around the buckle. The diagram shows a belt fragment, still in a knot, with buckle and all.
Another thing that is very, very useful for SCA clothing is a belt pouch. We all need a way to carry our authorization cards. driver's license, car keys, etc. The belt pouch is one way to do this. Most illustrations of the time period show the pouches hanging around the knee to lower thigh of the wearer. The basic pouch can be made out of leather or fabric. The easiest method is to take a simple U shape, sew along the bottom and edges, and put a drawstring at the top. If you want to get fancy you can line it or decorate it.
In order to create a perfect silhouette it is most important to understand how a well-made shirt should fit. It should:
The human waist is not a straight line parallel to the floor. Instead it sits at an angle with the front waist 1" - 2" lower than the back.
These numbers are for general reference. Always take the natural measurements first before undergarments are added. You never know when you will need them.
This skirt is made with a long rectangle of fabric gathered or pleated onto a waistband. The first mistake most clothiers make with this skirt is to fail to drop the waist sufficiently in front. Consequently, the front is too long and the back is too short.
It is also important to realize that the skirt itself has thickness. The length of the skirt will be shortened slightly because it sits over the hip (depending on the fullness of the skirt). An addition of a bum roll must therefore also be taken into account, as the depth of the roll will shorten the skirt as well.
If you wish to wear a bum roll under your skirt, place the bum roll on and re-take the original three measurements. If desired, add a hoop and repeat. These three sets of numbers will be your guide to the perfect skirt.
Fold your lining fabric in half the short way.
Because this skirt is basically a rectangle, there is not much need for an actual paper pattern. At the extreme left side of your fabric (by the fold), draw the back length (measurement A) over the bum roll including extra length for skirt fullness as though you are cutting on the fold. Draw a normal rectangle half the length of E.
Draw a line at the approximate side (measurement B) and draw from the bottom up. This length will be shorter than the back length.
Draw the height of the front (measurement C) also from the bottom up and then draw the sloping line that connects the top of all three lines. A skirt cut from this shape should, if measured correctly and made correctly, hang even with the floor. To add a train, simply add the extra length below the back and slope the shape down from the side seam area. The shorter the train, the farther forward the slope must end. Short trains that aren't sufficiently sloped will hang limp and flat rather than fan out.
Repeat with the fashion fabric
Create a waistband by cutting a strip from the fashion fabrid that is 6" wide by measurement D
Cut out all pieces and label for ease of identification. I prefer sticky notes.
For a skirt that is open in the front, assemble to skirt by sewing the center back seams together.
If you want a closed front skirt, you will need to cut the fabric pieces at the side seam line. Sew the side seams, but leave 8 - 10 inches open on both sides. Sew the center back seams together, then sew the center front seams together.
Once the outer layer is fully assembled and pressed, trim can be added. It is important that the seam allowances be carefully manipulated to not catch in the stitching. Completely unadorned skirts are rarely seen. Almost always there are at least bands of complementary fabric. These bands can be put on after the lining is joined to the outer fabric in order to hold the lining to the outer skirt.
Sew together the side seam allowances of the lining and the shell with wrong sides together.
Stitch all around the outside edges to secure them. This is a delicate step as the slightest shift up or down of either layer will make the skirt hang incorrectly. Use lots of pins!
Cut strips of a stiff fabric, like canvas, or heavy linen for facings. These strips should be 2 - 4 inches in width and on the straight of grain.
Sew the lengths of facing fabric together end to end and press the seam allowances open. Press a 3/8 - 1/2 inch fold down the entire lenth of one side.
With right sides together, sew the facing down the center front, (closed front skirts omit that part), around the bottom hem and up the other side. Turn, press, and miter the corners. Hem the facing in place.
For an open front skirt:
For a closed front skirt, use two waist bands; one for the front and one for the back.
Sew hooks and eyes to the waistband.
By the 1500's the shirt had come into being as an article of clothing. It was worn underneath a vest, jacket, doublet, or other piece of outerwear. The shirt was considered to be underwear and people didn't go out without anything else on.
Cut two body rectangles using measurement D x C.
Take measurement E and mark out two sleeve rectangles that long and 1/2 fabric width.
Cut the collar and cuff bands where the length of each piece is taken from measurement A + 1" for the collar and measurement B plus 1" for each wrist. Make the collar 2" at its widest point (plus 1" for seam allowance). Cut 2 collar pieces. Cut the cuffs about 2" wide (plus 1" for seam allowance). Round the ends of the collar and cuffs. To get the curves even, fold the fabric in half and cut both curves at the same time.
Along the top of what will be the front and back of the shirt mark or pin to divide the fabric into three equal parts. The center section will be gathered into a collar. The side sections will need to be gathered to fit on the shoulder. Arrange the gathers evenly and sew or pin them in place to keep them from moving later. Sew the shoulders together where they are gathered.
Lay the sleeve pieces out with the length running from right to left. Fold in half lengthwise to find the center, and mark it at each end. One end of the sleeve will attach to the cuff, the other will attach to the shirt body.
Match up the center mark on the sleeves with the shoulder seam on the shirt bodies, right sides of the fabric together. Sew the sleeves on.
Sew the long seam from wrist, along the sleeve, and down the sides of the shirt.
On the top of each sleeve, cut a 2 - 3" slit perpendicular to the edge of the fabric. Cover the raw edges of the slit with bias tape to match the fabric.
Gather the open end of each sleeve along the raw edges to fit your wrist measurement E.
Place the collar pieces right sides together and sew along the ends and across the top. Snip the curves, turn, and press.
Fold the bottom (open, unsewn) edge of the collar up 1/2". Press.
Repeat steps 6 - 8 to make the cuffs.
Open up each cuff piece and fit the gathered end of the sleeve into it. Start at the slit, pinning it securely into one end of the cuff, and arranging he rest of the gathered sleeve so it all fits evenly. The opposite end of the cuff should hold the other side of the tape-covered slit. Pin Securely. Sew.
After each cuff is attached, lay out the ribbon and cut two lengths 18" long. Center each length over he cuff, on top of the machine stitching and sew it in place over the seam.
In the center front of the shirt body, make a slit about 6" long down from the neckline. Cover the raw edge with bias tape that matches the fabric.
Fold the collar band in half and crease where the back center will be. Also mark the quarter points. These will mark where the shoulders should match up.
Begin by marking the center back of the shirt with a pin. Gather all the fabric into the neckline until it meets measurement A.
Starting at the center back, match up the collar mark and the back of the shirt. Pin securely. Match up each shoulder seam with the quarter marks on the collar. Pin securely.
Gather the rest of the shirt fabric into the collar band and arrange it as evenly as possible.
Sew the shirt to the collar.
A lot of medieval costumes, especially for men, call for pants. These pants are very simple to make and do not require much fabric. These pants may not look pretty, but I promise you, your fighter will never pop the crotch seam!
NOTE: To get the crotch length, use a tape to measure around the middle of the body from the point where the top of the pants will be in front to where the top will be in the back, passing the tape between the legs. The tape should remain fairly loose when making this measurement. Divide this measurement by 2 to get the final crotch length.
Sew inseams for both legs to within 2" of the short edge.
Sew the long edge of the gusset to the back crotch curve on each pants leg.
Sew the front crotch seam.
Sew the remainder of the inseam together making sure to open all seam allowances and to match the edges.
Baste center front seam allowance flat.
Turn under the waistband 1/4" and sew.
Measure down 1 1/4" on center front seam and sew two button holes - 1 on each side of the seam. Slit the button holes open.
Turn the waist band down 1" and sew the fabric down to make a hem casing to thread a drawstring through.
Hem the bottom of the legs.
This is a method of lining a garment that I find simple and fast. It is not competition worthy.
Complete the garment. If you have a serger, go ahead and serge-finish the seam allowances of both the garment and lining hems, side seams, sleeve hems, and underarm seams.
Create a temporary hem on the garment. Hand baste all hems 1/4" up from the hem's fold. Steam press the folds.
Complete the lining. Be sure and leave one side seam open through which you'll turn the garment right side out. Press all of the lining seams.
Sew the lining to the garments front edges and hem, but leave unsewn the bottom 3" of the facing hems. Sew the garment and lining bottom together.
Turn the garment by reaching through the opening. Grab the back neck area of the garment, pull the garment right side out through the opening.
Sew the hem in place.
Sew the sleeve lining hems to the garments sleeve hems.
Hand stitch the lining's side seam opening closed.
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