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easy cheaty
t-tunic pattern

easy mostly

easy 13th


basic easy

kirtle or gown

ladies hose

easy hood

hood with
gores tutorial



noble lady

frilled fillet

pleated fillet



cloth button

lucet cord


Sewing Tutorial:
Early 13th Century Medieval Gown With Wide Sleeves

Re-enactors use a slightly more complicated pattern with underarm gores and a separate sleeve, but to make a slightly cheaty one which requires less sewing, you can cut it all in one piece. Made out of silk or cotton velveteen and it's gorgeous for feasts and you can see that a particolour gown makes a plain pattern a bit more fancy!

This can not be worn alone. It should be worn with tight sleeves covering your bare arms. If you choose to make the shorter sleeve and hem, you definately should have another gown underneath.

Step 1
You need: your fabric, pins, scissors and a cotton shirt for sizing.

Don't use a stretchy one as it can give a false sense of how it will fit you.

If you don't have a cotton shirt, get thee to an Op Shop and spend a couple of dollars and get one.

Step 2
Fold your shirt and your fabric in half lengthways.The good side of the fabric is on the inside.

If you arm goes to the edge of the fabric, HOORAY, you can make this with very little fabric at all. If your fabric is skinny, you will need to fold your fabric double (two runs of fabric instead of a folded over piece) before you begin.

Your folded shirt matches the side with the folded fabric.


Step 3
Fold your long, skinny folded fabric again the other way so you have one fold where your shirt centre fold is and one fold at the top of the sleeve.

You should have your one piece of fabric folded in four and the shirt in the top left hand corner where the fold is. The loose sides are to the right and to the bottom.

Not sure what I mean?

Check the next picture to double check that you've folded it right.
Step 4
Looking at it from a different angle to double check you've folded your fabric the right way before you pin or cut anything.

Your loose corners are at the bottom right.

Your corner fold where everything meets is at the top left where your head hole is.

Your shirt is sitting right in that corner ready to mark out your dress.

All good? Right! Let's continue.

Step 5
Marking out your pattern. This is not as hard as it sounds.

Always ALWAYS cut the seams a bit bigger than you think you need. You can always take a dress in but it's really hard to add pieces in once it's cut. Your pattern is based around your non-stretchy shirt.

Because it pulls on over the head, you need to allow extra room at the sides.

The underarm curves up and the sleeve follows your shirt to the elbow and then down to the edge of the fabric to about waist height. Your seam is on the fabric edge and doesn't even need hemming!

To get the size of your skirt, draw a line from the hip (the bottom of the shirt) to the very edge of the fabric. The wider your fabric, the more skirt you'll have. Your centre seam is as long as you are to the ground.

You will notice that with a smaller sleeve, you now have fabric to cut two triangles called "gores."

Just double check again that the fabric is folded the right way before you pin anything... it should look like this...all the loose corners are in the lower right hand side?

.. okay, start pinning!


Step 6
Now you've pinned, you can cut out your new gown.

okay.. snip snip!

Cut your new dress out.

It will look like this.
Step 7
Unpin the sides now that your dress is cut.

Swing the triangle gore around so it sits with the top of the triangle gore at the waist and the bottom of the gore at the hem of your dress.

It looks like this.

Step 8
Unfold your dress altogether.

When it's spread out of the floor, it looks like this. Make sure your triangle gores are sitting evenly- eg raw cut side of fabric towards the raw cut side of the dress body and all the selvedges on the outside of the dress.

Now get to work pinning those gores onto the body of the dress. Good side of the fabric on the inside.

Depending on the size of the fabric you started with, the gores may be a little big. That's ok. Start the top of the gore at waist height. You will be able to trim the hem down later. (Or it you want the hem to be as big as possible, just trim the top of the triangle gore so it doesn't go as high. This can be a bit fiddley for first-timers, so you might want to not do that.)

At this point, it's exactly the same front and back. Choose the side you want to be the front and cut the neckline a little lower. Just a little. Remember, you can take more off, but it's really hard to put it back on. Okay so now you have a front. The seam with the dotted line running horizontally through the neckline is where you fold your dress now.


Step 9
If you've folded correctly, you now have a dress which looks like this. Remember, the good sides of the fabric are on the inside.

Pin, pin, pin those side seams all the way from the hem, along the body, under the arms and down the sleeves. Now very, very carefully check you can get it on over your head. If it's very loose through the body, take the side seams in a little. Try it on again. Still loose? Pin in again and try it on. Remember, it will be a little loose so you can pull it on over your head.

Once you're happy with the fit and you've adjusted your neckline, sew your two side seams and you're finished!


The finished result
Your new gown will hang like a sack a little at first, but don't be depressed. When you put your belt on, it will pull in at the waist like it does in medieval manuscripts. Add a pretty hood and pouch and you're all dressed!

You can add finishing coloured bands at the bottom of the hem and around the sleeves cuufs and neckline.

We made this gown in a particolour in wool with bands which were cut off the original patterned wool.

Happy sewing!

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