Garment Started August 20 2006 - Dress finished September 23 2006
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Research and background

Running costs

Light blue linen (1,6+1,15 metre @ ~50) ~140 kr
Mystery Lining 40 kr

Total: ~180 kr
In an effort to expand my wardrobe with light-weight, easy to wear summer outfits for roasting hot camping events I set my sights on a linen kirtle. The fabric was taken from what originally meant to be the lining on my surcote. Since most of the pieces were already cut out progress was swift.

The reason for this light-weight kirtle comes mostly from camping one week in enormously fine weather. It is nice then, to have the option to put on something which has a lower neckline and isn't made from wool. Watching other ladies looking stylish and comfortable in linen kirtles around camp at Medieval Week 2006 I decided I must have one for myself.

Coming back from the event I dove right into The Tudor Tailor, where I gleaned much inspiration and thoughts for the future.

I had not planned on starting it quite yet, but looking through my bags of unfinished projects I discovered the linen I had cut out as a lining for my surcote. I decided against a lining there which left me with all this linen already cut up. And so, the Surcote Lining Kirtle was born.


Bodice patternIn an attempt to be frugal I was going to re-cut the bodice and leave the skirt as it was. I had been forced to add a waist seam in the lining as the fabric was bought in two cuts out of the remnants section of the fabric store. However, the bodice pieces turned out to be slightly too small, so I had to use the cut of linen I had not already used for new front and back pieces. I was able to salvage the original surcote bodice to use as interlining, though.

The pattern I ended up using was made by modifying my first drafted pattern (based on my corset) slightly. I wanted to try having the shoulder straps being integral only to the back pieces, so the front pattern looks odd to me. The other alteration was to move the side seams more to the front and give them less of an angle. In the photo you can see where I taped the two halves together and recut the side seam.

Work continued apace as I mounted the shell to interlining, after ironing on some modern interfacing for slightly more stability, and folded the seam allowances in. The seam in the back I sewed together using backstitch before the seam allowance there was folded in. All this done with linen thread. I feel it may perhaps be a little too weak to bear it, but I hope it will hold. If it comes to it, I can fold the back panels right sides together and whipstitch over the seam for extra strength.

The kirtle will be put on by lacing the side seams, and the last thing I did on the bodice was to mark out nine eyelets on each edge, staggered for spiral lacing. In all, that's only 36 eyelets to sew, plus of course a lacing strip for each armscye so that I can add sleeves if I want.

August 30, 2006: Bodice completion - With all eyelets finished on the bodice all that was left to do was find a lining. I went to my favourite local store and bought a mystery fabric which matches my linen in colour and has a delightful drape. I slipstitched the lining into place on the bodice, save for the waistline where I want to bring it down to cover the eventual seam for the skirt.

Skirt panelsThe skirt was also lined with the same material. Before thinking things through I cut out lining for the godets as well as the trapezoids that are front and back panels. When asking the advice of Viscountess Helwig she pointed out that gores were unnessecary for a 16th Century A-line kirtle, all I need are the trapezoids. Discarding the godets I used the machine to run the three seams in the skirt together. Two side seams and one centre back where I had cut the pattern pieces along the selvedge of the fabric. The back seam was closed all the way to the top, while I left quite a long opening at either side seam so I will be able to get into and out of the kirtle with ease.

Finished Dress

October 31, 2006 - I actually finished this kirtle over a month ago, in time for Nordmark's Civil War event (won by the Prince's forces), but since I did not get any photos of me wearing the finished dress did not feel the diary warranted an update. However, I don't know when I might get a picture taken so I may as well round this page off.

With the skirt seams finished off I went ahead and cut down the front of it to follow the line of the bodice. I added a couple of pleats in the back over the butt, and one pair in the front, wide over the pelvis. I am not entirely pleased with those and I'm considering taking them out and making it entirely smooth in front. A skirt can only be whipstitched to a bodicy by hand, so I added a strip of wide grosgrain ribbon along the top edge and folded it down once before attaching the skirt.

I had some help with marking out the hemline at a sewing circle Saturday, so I cut the hem down and double-folded it to stitch it down by hand. The only other bits I did by hand on the kirtle was stitch the bodice lining in and then handstitch the shoulder straps in on the front of the bodice. Once I find the opportunity for a photograph I'll update again, until then, I declare this diary closed!

January 10, 2007 - I have now had the opportunity to get a couple of decent shots of me wearing this kirtle. I managed to get photos taken before christmas, but have now got the opportunity to update my site as well. I think it look alright, mostly, the back behaves a little oddly though, and I'm not 100% convinced the attachment of the skirt in front is right. That was, in fact, why I started the new layer to go over this, the English fitted gown. Together I think they will be a success.

Finished kirtle Finished kirtle Finished Kirtle Finished Kirtle

Photo Gallery

For images I may not have linked in the diary, close-ups and overviews et cetera please have a look at the photo gallery.

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