Sunday 14 June 2015

The Red Dress, a simple medieval style pattern

This post was moved here from our main website in 2015

The cut of this dress is based on practical experimentation rather than on a known period cutting method- but it does leave very little waste and can be pieced together out of narrower cloth very easily.

Start with two lengths of fabric long enough to reach shoulders to floor (plus, hem, train etc.).

Make basic shoulder seams to allow you to slip it over your head and mark where your waist will come.

Attach a folded rectangle of fabric on either side at waist level. If the fabric is narrow you may need more than one rectangle.

Have a friend fit the bodice to the body, you will need to cut either a front or back opening to get out at this stage-this dress laces shut but could also be buttoned. (It would look very good with a row of buttons down the front and many small decorative buttons up to the elbows on the sleeves.)

Once the bodice is fitted, you should be able to see where the fabric of the skirt touches the floor. Mark the hemline with chalk and spread the skirt out to tidy up the lines before cutting away the surplus (shown in grey on one side of the diagram above).

You may find you have sufficient offcuts in the skirt to make plain or hanging sleeves (if you go for hanging sleeves or tippets over contrasting plain sleeves you may have no fabric waste whatsoever!) If not, cut sleeves in an appropriate style out of extra fabric.

I find its easier to fully line a dress like this, as to hand hem it is a huge job, it also deals with the neck and lacing opening very neatly. That probably isn't a period method, but this is often made as a 'fancy dress' item rather than a high end authenticity item, so its a method that has its place.

However you finish it, tidy all the edges and add lacing holes or buttons to finish. (NB: I used some of my spare fabric to add another small gore in the back of the skirt- but it was overkill really!)

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