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FABRICS & SEWING

BASIC CLOTHING PATTERNS & TUTORIALS

EASY T- TUNIC TUTORIAL

EASY 13TH CENTURY TUNIC TUTORIAL

EASY WIDE-SLEEVE GOWN TUTORIAL

BASIC EASY LACED GOWN TUTORIAL

KIRTLE OR GOWN TUTORIAL

LADIES HOSE TUTORIAL

EASY EARLY HOOD TUTORIAL

HOOD WITH SHOULDER GORES TUTORIAL


BASIC SURCOTE TUTORIAL

SIDELESS SURCOTE TUTORIAL

FORMAL SIDELESS SURCOTE TUTORIAL

Easy Laced Medieval Gown
4 panels, 3 gores and a bunch of eyelets!

Re-enactors use a slightly more complicated pattern with underarm gores and a seperate sleeve, but to make a slightly cheaty one which requires less sewing, you can cut the whole sleeve in one piece. Made out of linen, it's great for daywear or made from silk or velvet, 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) 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. Go on, you know you want to!

Step 1
You need: your fabric, pins, scissors, a cotton shirt for sizing, 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 cotton shirt, get thee to an Op Shop and spend $3 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 very skinny, you will need to fold your fabric double (two runs of fabric instead of a folded over piece) before you begin. If you folded, your folded shirt matches the side with the open fabric.
Step 3
Let's look at that again...

The middle of your shirt lines up with the open side.

The open side is on the left.

The fold is on the right.
Step 4
So now you have your fabric all stretched out.

Your shirt is ready for marking out. It's in the top left hand corner and the fabric fold is on the right.

Okay.

Let's mark that dress out!
Step 5
Marking out your pattern. 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. Start at the underarm. The underarm curves up and the sleeve follows your shirt to the elbow and then down to the edge of the fabric.

Go back to your underarm and this time draw downwards to about waist height.

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. If you want a train, allow more.

Trace off a second one and place it underneath the first one like the picture.

You will notice that you also have enough fabric to cut two triangles called "gores." One gore goes all the way to the edge and goes on the fold. The other one doesn't.
Step 6
Just double check again that the fabric is folded the right way before you cut anything.

The good side of the fabric goes to the inside.

.. it should look like this...

Okay, start pinning!

Just double check again that the fabric is folded the right way before you cut anything.

Looks ..okay?

Get snipping!!.. snip snip!

The pieces you can see with the little crosses on them are scraps we don't need. If you're using this pattern to make a buttoned gown instead of a laced one, you will want to keep these scraps to make the buttons out of.
Step 7
Cut your new dress out.

It will look like this.

Your triangle gores are upside down, so you will need to swing them around so they are pointy side up.

Keep the top gores with the front and the bottom gore with the back. You will see why soon.
Step 8
Unpin the sides now that your dress is cut.

Move the triangle gores around so they are in these places-

The two small gores sit at the side seams. If you've accidentally cut your top gore on the fold and it's unfolded as one triangle, just cut it in half (on the red dotted line), so you have two triangle gores- one for each side seam.

The bottom gore 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.

Alternatively, if you have extra fabric, just cut another one the same size and use that!

Not sure what I mean? We unfold everything in the next step and it's easier to see what's what.

Step 9
Unfold your dress altogether.

When it's spread out of the floor, it looks like this.

The front of your dress has the two small gores- one on each side seam.

The back of your dress has the one gore which was cut on the fold, and it will sit in the centre of the back seam.

Make sure your triangle gores are sitting evenly.

Step 10
Swing half your dress around so the shoulders and sleeves are touching and check that the triangle gores are still in the right place.

It should look like this!
Step 11
Now get to work pinning those gores onto the body of the dress. Remember, the good sides of the family face inwards.

Do both sides and the back one.

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.)

Next, pin the front of the gown down the centre red dotted line.

Don't pin the back of the gown above the triangle gore that goes at the back of your gown.

That's where your lacing will go.

Now sew the bits you've pinned.
Step 12
Next, 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.

Put your gown on inside out.

Get your Helpful Friend to pin the back seam closed.

Don't worry about how wide and loose your gown seems. You and your Helpful Friend are about to really take those sides right in.

Step 13
Shaping your gown! Start with the sleeves, which are probably too wide. Pin them in to make your sleeve as skinny as you can. Test to make sure you can get you hand in and out. Make adjustments now. Excellent.

Now, the side seams. This is where all the shaping happens in this dress. Start at your underarm. Check you can move your arm without tearing your dress. Pin, pin, pin those side seams in as much as you can all the way down along the red dotted line down the body. Mark out where you want your neckline to go and allow 2cm for the rolled edge. Once you're happy with the fit and it's even both sides, get your friend to unpin the back seam and let you out. Sew up your sleeve and side seams. 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. Have your Helpful Friend pin the back closed. If your back won't reach closed, you've made your side seams a little too snug, and you need to let them out a touch. Once you are 100% happy with the fit, snip off the excess fabric. Trim your hem as long as you want it.

Step 14
Lacing the dress. Put two re-inforcing strips down the back of the dress- once each side and then sew your eyelets down the back in pairs no more than 2-2.5cm apart.

If you make them too far apart, the back of the dress will gape.

I really, really recommend you don't just get a punch and punch eyelets in the back. It's a whole lot sturdier to sew them yourself.

Think it's too hard or don't know how? Check the EYELET TUTORIAL which shows you how easy it is to do.

Don't have the time or inclination to hand sew eyelets? If you aren't a re-enactor and simply must use metal eyelets, make sure you use an awl to make the hole in the fabric and not punch a hole right through. Cutting the fabric will mean your eyelets will not be strong and will tear with very little use.

Not sure what I mean, it's explained in detail in the eyelet tutorial.
The finished result
Obviously, this can be made in one solid colour, but I wanted to show how an easy pattern can give you a pretty gown when made with heraldry.

It dresses up the gown quite a bit, especially for the novice or beginner sewer who isn't ready to tackle the harder projects.

You can add gold metal braid around the hem, sleeves and neckline and pearls for a noblewoman's gown or leave it plain for a working-class gown.

And now you're done!

Happy sewing.

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