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ZERO WASTE Medieval Kirtle

If you read a few of my previous articles you will know I am all into medieval theme recently! 🙂 We are going to a Medieval Festival at Kryal Castle in May and of course making costumes was on a must list! I already made zero waste medieval style head wrap and a few other pieces. This time the kirtle is on my list! My zero waste attempt! 🙂

I decided to use 100% linen in natural colour to keep it more authentic. Initially I really wanted to do authentic stitching as well, all by hand. But I am running low on time, so sewing machine it will be!

To start with, I did some research into medieval clothes. “The Medieval Taylor’s Assistant” by Sarah Thursfield was a really helpful resource. And of course some google and YouTube search. 🙂

I knew I wanted to create a zero waste option, so some compromise on tight fit should be done. Therefore I went for rather loose style. The pattern I am sharing below is to fit size 10 (bust 88cm, waist 69cm. hips 98cm). But the fit is rather loose, so up to 5cm up should be good I am guessing.

I started with a piece of 100% linen 180.5x144cm wide. If you have wider fabric your dress will have a wider hem. I wanted to have it wider, but was limited by my fabric width.

To assemble it zero waste attach front neckline cut out to the back neckline, fold towards the wrong side of the fabric and stitch – you will have a decorative stitching on the dress back in the shape of the neckline.

To put the belt together you will need a 2.5cm buckle. I didn’t have the one with the tongue, so used a simple one, which also worked great. I used flat fell seam in most cases to put the dress together. Sleeve side pieces, sleeve gussets, shoulder seams, and side gussets are all attached using flat fell seam. Assemble sleeve and attach sleeve gusset to it before attaching the whole construction to the dress body.

Do you know what is gusset? 🙂 A gusset is genius design decision of medieval dressmaking! It is a triangular or rhomboidal piece of fabric inserted into a seam to add breadth or reduce stress from tight-fitting clothing. Gussets were used at the shoulders, underarms, and hems of traditional shirts and chemises made of rectangular lengths of linen to shape the garments to the body.

Sleeves, pockets and dress side seams I connected using normal seam and overlocked. I know, not very “medieval”, but as I said, I was running low on time.. 🙂 Maybe my next medieval kirtle will be stitched by hand! 🙂

I will be honest, I am not 100% pleased with the results. But I would totally wear this dress! I think it looks better with a wide belt rather than with the one I created for it though. I also really wanted the dress to be a bit of a tighter fit.

If I ever make this design in future I will make a few adjustments:

  • Sleeve gussets could be smaller;
  • Dress hem definitely needs to be wider;
  • Bust-waist area could be tightened a bit.

You are welcome to accommodate the adjustments and see how you go! Good luck! Please get in touch if you need any more explanations or help! 🙂

UPDATE #1: I wore this kirtle at a medieval festival at Kryal castle this week. It is actually very comfortable! I would definitely wear it more than I initially thought. 🙂 The pictures of the full outfit are below. 🙂

Medieval head wrap pattern can be downloaded here for a donation of your choice. You can also read more about the creation of a cape on my blog. 

UPDATE #2: A few days after the Medieval Festival suddenly I had a realisation how to update the pattern to create the look I initially wanted! So I decided to give it a try. My initial improvement areas were:

lessen sleeve gussets,

widen the hem and

tighten the dress around the waist line.

So I cut out extra side gussets, redused the sleeve gusset I already had (and updated my pattern payout with a smaller sleeve gusset for future use), and cut extra plackets for the front and back to tighten the dress with cord. And guess what! The new layout is still ZERO WASTE! 😀

To reflect the addition of new pattern pieces the new dress assembly will look like that:

There are a few things to keep in mind when assembling the dress: When you insert extra side gussets you need to ease gusset side seams to the length of the gusset in the middle. This is necessary to keep the hem even while maintaining zero waste principal and not cutting the corners of the gusset hem. You will only need to ease a few centimetres each side and it will not compromise the look, I promise! 🙂

Before attaching sleeve gusset, join all it's pieces together (three per gusset, then attach to the sleeve. After that attach sleeve with the gusset to the dress.

This is the look I initially wanted to create and now I am extremely happy with the overall outcome! 🙂 I would totally wear this dress in my everyday life.  

 

What do you think? Did you find this post useful? Let me know in comments! 🙂

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