Sunday, December 19, 2010

German Brickstich Project

This is my first attempt using a pattern I found from this website:

Here's my work so far... I'm watching a star wars marathon right now to help pass the time :D

Monday, December 13, 2010

My new embroidery frame!

Created by a loving member of my family!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Parti-Coloured Plaid Cotehardie

I found this awesome idea! And I just happen to have material that will work for the plaid! It's cotton, but I think I can ignore that fact for this one. I'm now just debating if I should use a dark fabric or light to oppose the plaid. I was thinking a nice white linen...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

My Award of Arms

Oooohh aaahhhh..............

Cotehardie Pictures... Finally!

These are the promised photos of the dresses I currently have and made (gave one away). I just ordered 5 yards of Royal Blue and Green Linen... so watch out more to come!

Red Woolen Cotehardie

So I donated one of my first dresses to a sweet little girl, and moved my pilgrims badges on this dress. I stitched the lacing eyelets by hand and most of the dress (info in earlier blog entry). I was rushing apparently too because I messed up on the lacing lol... but it does look lovely anyway! I really love how the four panel pattern fits so nicely over a woman's natural curves. Way better than the princess line!

Purple Linen Cotehardie

I'm wearing my two House badges for the SCA (ladies are not documented wearing these things lol). I LOVE how comfortable this dress is! My houses are; 'The Inn of the Tree and Cross' and the 'Hospitallers of Bordergate'.

Sideless Surcoat (Still a work in progress...)

I'll update on this project as soon as it's done! It's real rabbit fur too (made out of an old fur coat)! For now I have to get back to hand-stitching my heraldic dress! It's coming along nicely (just need to find time in my life).

Monday, June 21, 2010

Heraldic Cotehardie

This is my project coming up... as soon as my Device is accepted!

An Update!!! I just purchased 12 yards of silk! It's all white so I will have to dye each color. And I plan on doing this dress all by hand. Big project!!! :)

August, 2010

So... I finally have got around to starting my heraldic cotehardie. I bought 12 yards of a beautiful white silk, and then dyed it green, black and red for the fabric I need. I used RIT dye, because I can easily find it at zellers and it`s cheap!

Next, I began fitting of the dress. To my dismay, my lovely man did not feel inclined to help me further then taking pictures so I`ve done the fitting myself. I`m sure once the dress is pieced together there will be need of further fitting. The first pic is the pre-fitting, the second is more fitted. You can see how much I cut off from the body panels.

And then cam the fun part! I had to divide the front and back panels, and side gores into `Gyronny eight`...

Once the panels were cut, I traced them onto the black and white fabric. I then cut them out given each piece a 1/2 seam allowance. I traced each piece in order to later help when I am hand stitching this whole puzzle together!

I also cut out the applique that will be added on to the front of the dress. This is a sneak peak at how it will look! Of course the panels that are shown here are for the back. The front panels will have a deeper neckline. Also, I have yet to cut out any side panels that will extend the pattern giving the dress a voluptuous skirt. Much yet to do... but I'll post up more pics as soon as I progress further.

To do list
1) red buttons for sleeves and down the front
2) cut out front/side panels
3) cut out sleeves
4) sew the damn thing together :)


December 13th, 2010

I just received my new linen, one being a lovely green. So I have the purrrrfect material for two new cotes, one that will suite my heraldic dress nicely.


The following are dresses I have created, just for your enjoyment :)

This dress is made of synthetic materials, and one of my first cotehardies I ever made. I still love it although the fit is particularly terrible and it gets really hot while wearing it (the material does not breath well). The second photo shows how I lined the edges of the sleeves and front with silk, which I intended to make buttonholes on. However, I never got around it, so the front and sleeves are simply sewn shut. I added some pilgrims badges and tokens that I purchased at an event. In case you ever wondered... (and also because I love research!), in Medieval France: an encyclopedia By William W. Kibler, it is noted that,

page 740

Also, nobility did take pilgrimages too! The following excerpt describes the purpose of the pilgrimages (because let's face it, you secretly do want to know...)

page 740

Here is a close-up off mine. Although they are not historically accurate, they create the same effect. Plus they're cute!

This ne
xt dress is made of purple linen, and it is FAR more historically accurate then my Golden Silk Dress, and the previous red dress. I used a wonderful pattern that uses the idea of block patterning to create the dress. I purchased the pattern on e-bay (yay for e-bay!) for a decent price.

Of course, linen is wonderful to work with but it LOVES to wrinkle.

With this dress, I included eyelets (handsewn of course) for lacing down the front of the gown. Eyelets a re really easy, especially if you include a metal grommet underneath your work! Lol! I used the grommets to reinforce t he eyelets even if this is not period, simply because it really helps keep the eye let in tact afte r lacing the gown a lot of times!

Here is a closeup on the eyelets and the method to make them.

The next dress is a current project. I made it of turquoise blue silk awhile ago, but I made it too small. Sooo.... I'm currently adding gores to the sides to give me more room. The thing I like about this dress is the gores in the skirt! There are eight and that's why is is incredibly wide! It looks absolutely lovely! I'll be sure to post a pic up as soon as it is done (and I'll wear it this time).

OK!!!! And my last but not least... My WOOL cotehardie! This one is by far my favorite at the moment! It is longer then my other dresses, and the sleeves are marvelous! They're bell shaped. I also crafted some buttons for this gown, however because it is so fitted to my body, I will have to make eyelets and lace it up the front. Here is the work in progess (very close to being finished). I've sewn down all the seams by hand (which I do to all my dresses), and all I have left is to hem it. The color is very rich, and it is very warm! Hurray for authentic materials!

Anyway! I'll post pics of me wearing my gown when I get a good pic at an event or something. Enjoy! Oh, and this is my little helper.... Nell. She's a Min Pin Jack Russel. Cutest thing ever!

Documentation for 'Golden Cotehardie'

Here is my documentation for my A&S Gold Silk Cotehardie! Feel free to use it to help you with your own research but remember to site your sources as I worked really hard on this documentation. Thanks!

Silk Cotehardie, 14th Century
A&S Single Entry

Ysabel la Broderesse (Janique Richard, 2010)

What is a Cotehardie?

The 14th century is described as being a period in medieval history with an “...outburst of creativity on styles of design” (Piponnier, et al., 66). The Cotehardie in particular, described as a “figure-fitting garment”, is far more attractive than the “somewhat shapeless clothes” that had been prevalent during the early middle ages (18, Brooke). It was very tight fitting, often buttoned or laced down the front, with a low “round décolleté over the shoulders” and very wide skirts which suggest gores added to the side seams (Piponnier, et. al, 76). The sleeves were “buttoned from wrist to elbows” with a large number of small ornamental buttons and some dresses portray “exquisite embroidery... [which] must have taken a lifetime to execute” (Brooke, 20, 22). Concrete evidence of the garment is drawn from brass memorial plates, and “ and woman... captured in stone around the doorways of cathedrals, or hidden away between the parchment leaves of gold, purple and sky-blue miniature paintings” (Piponnier, et al., 3). Physical textiles from the middle ages are scarce however because of their fragility and “only a few exceptional examples have survived...” such as the Herjolfsnes Greenland garment (Piponnier, et al.,, 3). Also, instances of iconoclasm in history, and World wars fought in Europe have destroyed a considerable amount of evidence. However, the 14th century is fortunate to have the amount of sources it does, earlier periods in medieval history pose a greater challenge of findings sources!

On the definition of the Cotehardie...

While I was doing my research, I did notice an interesting ambiguity regarding the actual term of ‘Cotehardie’. It was increasingly frustrating and confusing when a description of one Cotehardie is depicted under the guise of a kirtle. Thankfully the book ‘Medieval Clothing and Textiles (volume 1)’ highlights that;

“Documents of the period offer a bewildering array of names that might apply to the various layers of body garments. References to the linen undergarment are fairly straightforward; it might be called a chemise, shirt, or smock, among other names. For the overgown and undergown, however, documents include such specialized terms as cote, cote-hardie, goune, jupon, kirtle, paltok, supertunica, surcot, and tunica, among others. Variant spellings of all these words, as well as terms from different languages, enlarge the list further. It is not always clear whether a particular term applies specifically to an outerlayer or an innerlayer, refers to one gender or both, or carries other implications of style. Much of this confusion arises from inconsistent or ambiguous usage in documents and changes in meaning over time or from one region to another” (page 116).

Historical Construction of the Gown

There are various ways in which the Cotehardie was constructed. The most common is portrayed by Carl Kohler in ‘A History of Costume’. He illustrates that the garment was “fitted very closely all the way from the shoulders to far below the hips” and from the “hip-joint down it was gradually widened by the insertion of gussets at the back and side seams” (Köhler, 182). He further illustrates that the Cotehardie would have been constructed “the same length all long that the wearer had to raise it in front in order to be able to walk” (Köhler, 182). The sleeves were sown “tight from sleeve-hole to wrist, and were trimmed with small buttons at the back and from the wrist to the elbow” (Köhler, 182). Furthermore, “...underarm gusset sewn into place” enabled the arm of the wearer to be lifted without tearing the garment at the armpit (Houston, 74). Without this gusset, arm movements were impossible in a very tightly fitted bodice of the fourteenth century. The following picture from A History of Costume is a historical depiction of the period pattern.

Cloth buttons appear among the remnants of garments found in London quite often, as this was the “chief method of fastening” (Crowfoot et al., 164). Buttons, buttonhole stitches, eyelet techniques and period sewing methods that would have been incorporated and used for a Cotehardie are well documented in Textiles and Clothing c. 1150-1450. The following images detail the cloth buttons, buttonholes and period stitches used to achieve them taken from the book:


The most common fabrics that would have been used in the construction of a Cotehardie in the 14th century would have been wool, cotton and linen, wool being “the chief raw fibre used for textiles” (Crowfoot et al., 15). Wool was a crucial part of medieval economy and profited the bourgeoisie in Western Europe so much so that “sumptuary laws [were] enacted by the authorities... to preserve the distance between the nobility and the nouveaux riches, who could now afford to dress in silk....” (Piponnier, et al., 72). Silk then, once a rarity in the 12th century, became “ a little more widespread in the 14th century” from the onset of Italian Silk Weavers but did not supplant woollen fabrics; silk was “generally used only in court circles” (Piponnier, et al., 21). Silk ribbons however “[were] one of the materials in most frequent use” and were used to create belts and girdles, and to line the fastenings of garments (Piponnier, et al., 21). Using costly materials such as silk then “...affirmed their wearer’s membership of the ruling class, endorsing... position in society and... power by the display of fabrics and furs, the variety of forms and decoration and the brilliance of the gold and the colours” (Piponnier, et al., 76). The “illusion of luxury” was therefore a commonly sought pursuit (Piponnier, et al., 83

My Garment

The Cotehardie I constructed uses a modern princess line pattern, which is not historically accurate and for good reasons! The modern pattern gets a similar look to the period Cotehardie, however it wastes a lot of fabric. In period, “...the need for avoiding waste in cutting when materials were hand-woven and necessarily expensive” is apparent in the patterning of garments (Houston, 78). I only had a modern pattern on hand when creating this dress, however I am going to fashion future Cotehardies with the period method of block patterns and adding triangular gores as documented in this article (because silk is expensive!) My pattern still incorporates the 8-gored ‘look’ by using 8 different panels, and gussets under the arms for mobility.

I used duipioni silk and 100% cotton fabrics for my dress. Duipioni is an affordable substitute for ‘samite’ or ‘cloth of gold’ used by the nobility in the 14th century. I used a running stitch to hold the seams in place and a hem stitch on the bottom of the dress and sleeves. I used period techniques to create the buttons, adding an extra ‘turn in’ to make the buttons sturdier. I used a buttonhole stitch, which is also period in practice, to finish the front fastenings of the dress. I did not put any buttons on the sleeves however this was very much a period style! All threads that were used are 100% cotton, although cotton was not a fibre widely used. The threads were easy to work with however in the future I would use linen threads as documented in the London extant pieces from the book Textiles and Clothing c. 1150-1450 because they would have been more historically accurate considering the cost of cotton. All seams that are invisible have been sewn by a modern machine to decrease the time necessary to finish the dress (I view my sewing machine as my very own seamstresses!)

Because this dress is fabricated out of silk, this Cotehardie would have been used by nobility and would have been found most likely exclusively in court circles. The length of this dress would have been extremely long in period as well, in order to display wealth and the affordability of not having to do one’s own hard labour; however I modified the length in order to make it more practical to wear. It would have been worn on its own in the first half of the 14th century, and later beneath a ‘gates of hell’ garment or a ‘surcote’ by nobility. Overall, I truly enjoyed created this dress and learned a great deal about historical garments and techniques as it has inspired me to create another gown!


Brooke, Iris., Laver, James. English Costume from the Fourteenth through the Nineteenth Century. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1937.

Crowfoot, Elisabeth., Pritchard, Frances., and Staniland, Kay. Textiles and Clothing c.1150-1450. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2001.

Houston, Mary G. Medieval Costume in England & France: The 13th, 14th and 15th Centuries. London: Adam &Charles Black, 1950.

Köhler, Carl., translator, Dallas, Alexander K. A History of Costume. New York: Dover Publications, 1928.

Netherton, Robin. Editor. Medieval Clothing and Textiles (volume 1). Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2005.

Piponnier, Francoise., and Mane, Perrine. Dress in the Middle Ages. London: Yale University Press, 1997.

Golden Cotehardie

I entered this dress for my first A&S competition. This dress is made with Duipioni gold silk was a lesser more affordable silk for those imitating the costly courtly fashions. I lined this piece in cotton (which I later found was a mistake!) I learned that cotton was VERY costly during this period and only the very rich ever had access to it because of the size of it's fibers. Cotton, as a fiber, is quite short, and so it does not make a very strong warp. The warp, of course, is the part of the textile that is strung on the loom, and the weft is what is woven into it. Linen, on the other hand, is a very long, and therefore strong, fiber, and makes a very good warp.(A good discussion on this topic is found here:

Anyway, the highlight of my dress is the buttons and buttonholes! There are 54 handmade buttons and 54 hand-stitched buttonholes down the front of the dress, which I fashioned after reading "Textiles and Clothing, c.1150-1450 (Medieval Finds from Excavations in London), by Elisabeth Crowfoot, Frances Pritchard, and Kay Staniland (Author).

I must say! Pick up this book! It is an invaluable resource for any re-creationist! Here is samples of the images found in this book, and my own buttons I created. I added an extra step when I created my own buttonholes turning them inside a second time.

This dress turned out beautifully, however I do need to work on the fitting. I used the princess line pattern for this dress, and therefore it was difficult to pattern close to my body. After creating this dress I did more research and found a method of paneling, using four panels, that creates a personal block fitting to the body. But definitely a wonderful experience!

-Ysabel la Broderesse