CLOTHING PATTERNS & TUTORIALS
T- TUNIC TUTORIAL
13TH CENTURY TUNIC TUTORIAL
WIDE-SLEEVE GOWN TUTORIAL
EASY LACED GOWN TUTORIAL
OR GOWN TUTORIAL
EARLY HOOD TUTORIAL
WITH SHOULDER GORES TUTORIAL
SIDELESS SURCOTE TUTORIAL
to make a medieval kirtle or gown with buttons
panels, 3 gores and a bunch of buttonholes or eyelets!
Re-enactor lady friends, this is the one you've been waiting for. The
seams for this kirtle are in the right place, it has a set in sleeve
and it has the sleeve seam in the right place at the back of the arm.
This is a slightly challenging pattern for those who are starting out,
but if you're keen, it's much easier than a lot of those fantasy patterns
you see. This is the pattern that I use myself for a 4-panel late 14th
Made out of linen or wool like the picture
on the left, it's great for daywear or made from silk or wool, it's
stunning for formal wear. If you're not a serious re-enactor, you can
make it in cotton velveteen and it's gorgeous for feasts! Because it
has lacing at the front or at the back (I'd suggest the back for beginners
in case you have an unexpected lacing crisis) or buttons down the front,
you can tailor this gown right in so it is shaped and fitted through
the torso. It's also very pretty with a low-cut neckline.
Before we begin..
Where the seams go
A lot of people starting out don't really know where the seams
go in a real medieval dress. If you're not a re-enactor, odds
are a lot of patterns you've looked at have panels and seams all
over the place.. a waist seam... darts...
Let's just have a look.
This is not the more complicated 8-panel dress. This one has-
four panels (2 at the front, 2 at the back) and some triangle
Looking at it front on, you will see the seams where the white
dots are.Thehardest thing about this dress is the sleeves.
around- at the back, this is where your seams are.
You will notice that the seams on your sleeves aren't under your
arm like the Basic T-Tunic or Easy Early Gown.
They are sort of up the back. You will notice that a modern woman's
suit jacket has the seam in exactly the same place.
If you are buttoning your gown, you can button almost all the way
up the sleeve seams for maximum bling!
You can, of course, just sew the seam up.
Now we know what the dress should look like.
This tutorial is for a gown that buttons at the front. You can
adjust it to lace at the back if you want.
You need: your fabric, pins, scissors, a woman's suit jacket which
is a good fit (for sizing and patterning) and a Helpful Friend
for the fitting at the end.
Don't use a stretchy shirt for patterning as it can give a false
sense of how it will fit you. If you don't have a sacrificial
jacket you are happy to pull apart, the Op Shop is a good place
to get a cheap one. It may be $10 but it's still going to be cheaper
than buying a pattern.
Why do you need a jacket? Check out the sleeve seams. They are
in the right place, exactly where the dotted lines were on the
Pull your jacket apart.
Keep one front panel, one back panel and the matching sleeve. If
your jacket has extra seams down the front and back, leave them
sewn up. We just need to unpick front, back, side seams and sleeves.
Make a note of whether you've kept the left or right sides, so you
remember which side sleeve you have.
The great thing about doing this, is that your sleeve will definitely
fit the armhole.
Fitting the sleeve is the worst bit of medieval dress making. Trying
to put the wrong sleeve on the wrong side will reduce a grown woman
to tears faster than anything.
Fold your fabric in half lengthways.
The good side of the fabric is on the inside.
If your fabric is very skinny, you will need to fold your fabric
double (two runs of fabric instead of a folded over piece) before
If you folded, the open side is on the left like the picture.
The fold is on the right.
So now you have your fabric all stretched out, your jacket pieces
placed for marking out.
Okay. Let's mark that dress out! Start with the front of the jacket
which will be your front dress.
Add and extra curve outwards where your bust is.
You can use the armholes from your jacket.
The length of your gown is how tall you are plus a bit.
Once you've marked that, use the back piece of the jacket and mark
out the back panel and allow extra fabric for a train.
Mark two triangle gores using as much of the fabric at the side
that you can.
Place your jacket sleeve on the diagonal. Your sleeve MUST be on
the diagonal or it will not have enough give in the fabric to bend
your elbow much. At all. Allow for extra fabric to go over your
knuckles. You can always trim it back later if it's too long.
If you have extra fabric, and you want to cut an extra gore the
same size as the top one, go for it! (not shown here). You will
have a fuller gown if you do.
Remove your jacket pieces.
Just double check again that the fabric is folded the right way
before you cut or pin anything.
Now is the time to pin, pin, pin. Done? We're ready to cut then.
Cutting out your pattern is not quite so terrifying 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.
When you're finished, unfold your triangle gores.
It should look like this.
Keep your leftover scraps if you are going to make matching buttons
for your gown.
When you've finished cutting and removed the scrap fabric, unpin
Unfold the panels of your new
It will look like this.
Your triangle gores are upside down at this stage..
Swing your triangle gores around so they are pointy side up, and
place them at the sides of the panels they belong to.
Front gores with front, back gore with back.
Keep the top gore with the front.
Place the bottom gore with the back panels so it sits in the centre
back seam with the top of the triangle gore at the waist and the
bottom of the gore at the hem of your dress.
Place your sleeves with the sides they belong to.
It's helpful to get a couple of post it notes and pin them to the
gown and sleeve with L and R on them so it's easy to match up later.
Now to sort out the top gores on the front panel.
If you had extra fabric and cut and extra top triangle gore, it
goes on the left hand side of the front panels.
If you didn't cut an extra gore, cut your top gore in half and put
one half onto the other side of the front panels as shown by the
Now get to work pinning those gores onto the body of the dress.
Remember, the good sides face inwards.
Looking at the front panels, pin all the dotted lines. Do both sides
and the front one to the waist.
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.
Next, pin the back triangle gore to the gown down the red dotted
line. Don't pin the back of the gown above the triangle gore. Check
you are pinning the good side of the fabric to the good side of
the fabric on the inside.
Now sew the bits you've pinned.
Once you've done that, pin the pink dotted line down the back of
the dress and along the back triangle gore.
Okay. Sew that up now.
Now to attach the front of the glown to the back of the gown.
Swing your front around so the shoulders join the shoulders of the
back. (Your dress won't look like this... you've already sewn the
triangle gores and the back seams.)
Pin and sew the back of the gown to the front of the gown across
the red dotted line that goes horizontally.
Make sure your good sides are facing inwards.
Your sleeves are still not attached, but if you're having trouble
keeping track of which side is which, use a safety pin to pin the
right sleeve to the right side and ditto the left.
Now you're ready to shape your gown!
Put your gown on inside out so the seams are on the outside ready
to adjust. Get your Helpful Friend to pin the front seam closed
where the blue line is. Later you'll have buttons or lacing at
the front. Don't worry about how wide the rest of your gown seems.
You and your Helpful Friend are about to really take those seams
Start with the back seam. Take it in so that the gown shoulder
pieces are sitting on your shoulders. You can make the neckline
lower later, but you want the shoulders to sit right for a start.
Next pin the gown down the red lines
at the sides. You will more than likely need to take the side
seams in a bit. Sometimes quite a bit. Don't interfere with your
armholes. They need to stay the same so the sleeve fits it. Once
you're happy with the fit and it's even both sides, get your friend
to unpin the front seam and let you out. Sew up your adjusted
DO NOT cut any excess fabric off at this stage. Seriously. Turn
your dress the right way out and try it on again. Check you can
wriggle in and out. Once you are 100% happy with the fit, snip
off the excess fabric. Trim your hem as long as you want it.
Mark out where you want your neckline to go and allow 2cm for
the rolled edge.
Now- the tricky bit- the sleeves!
Fold your sleeves and pin them so the seam is where it is in the
Check your arm fits. Sew it up and pin it to the dress like the
Try it on.
If your sleeves seem really weird, it could be you have the wrong
sleeve on the wrong arm. This is the single biggest disaster with
making the dress- sleeves on the wrong side or cut inside out.
Fiddle with them until you're sure they're on the right sides.
Happy with the fit? Great!
Now your dress is finished except for the buttons down the front
and buttons up the sleeves if you're making them.
If you're doing buttons all the way up the sleeves, you won't
sew them closed. You will sew a re-inforcing strip like the one
we are about to put on the front of the gown for the buttonholes.
Hopefully you have left enough fabric to fold a little under down
the front where your buttonholes are going to go.
Put a re-inforcing strip in the front of the dress on the inside.
This is where the blue line was in the previous pic that you didn't
sew up. It will be a bit tricky around the curvy bit of the bust,
but you can do it if you fiddle a bit. It's easier to make the re-inforcing
curve of it's cut on the bias. (Mine isn't)
The other side is where your buttons go, but always do all your
buttonholes first and then mark where the buttons go. If you have
slightly uneven buttonholes, your buttons will line up perfectly
and it will be far less noticable. Mark your buttonholes no more
than 2-2.5cm apart. If you make them too far apart, the dress will
Backstitch your buttonhole BEFORE you cut the fabric and then sew
buttonhole stitch (like a tiny blanket stitch) around the hole.
This is how the buttonholes sit on the front of the dress. You can
see a faint line of stitches where I sewed the re-enforcing strip
They go really, really close to the edge of the opening.
The buttons you choose will be close to ball-shaped or domed and
on a shank. You will sew them right on the very edge of your gown,
not set in a cm like we do today.
You have the option of also doing buttonholes all the way up your
sleeves instead of sewing them closed, but I really think you might
like to not try this on your first dress.
And now you're done!
you might like are the heraldic gown with a coat of arms on it,
or a short sleeve gown which goes over the top of another gown.
My advice for a first re-enactor gown is a wool in a nice blue as
it will dress up for a noble women with bling accessories, but also
be very servicable for working class wear with different accessories.