April 2015 • Sewing

One of the gems of Washington State is Camlann, a living history village interpreting 14th century England. I’ve attended their festival and feasts for several years, but for my birthday this year I decided to make a gown to wear to the May Feast and Festival.

The kirtle was one of the foundation garments for women of all stations throughout the middle ages. Making this dress was a new experience for me in several ways. It was my first time drafting an entire pattern, with the help of Sarah Thursfield’s Medieval Tailor’s Assistant, which I’ve had for several years but have never used. It took two iterations to get the bodice block right, and after that was done, construction of the dress went pretty smoothly. The kirtle is made of navy linen, with the bodice lined with heavier natural linen. I didn’t have time to make more period-correct eyelets instead of grommets (and didn’t have time to cover all the grommets with thread before leaving for the festival!) but I don’t mind the look. My next step for this project is to make a contrasting-color sideless surcoat, which goes over the kirtle. I’ve even already got the red linen.

Thanks to my friend Michelle for the pictures!