It’s time for a new project! It’s been a while since i’ve been able to say that. I’m finally beginning work on a medieval ensemble that I bought fabric for a few months back (more info on that here).
This project is menswear inspired and consists of a few different pieces, the first is a cotehardie, which is a slim fit long sleeved garment. It will be worn over tights and a pair of shoes which I plan on making myself. Overtop of that there will be a mantle (capelet) which will have a liripipe (long pointed hood). And I might be making a crown to go with it as well. So lots of different pieces to keep me busy!
I decided to start with the most important piece which is the cotehardie. There are tons of reference of these in artwork from the middle ages, but that artwork isn’t very fun to look at. So here is an example from “The Complete Costume History” book. These are some pretty fancy examples, mine is a little less elaborate!
Here are my main fabrics for the ensemble. The cotehardie will be made from a wool suiting, the mantle and shoes will made from a really heavy wool coating, and the tights from a gold knit.
Once I had my references gathered I started draping the pattern. This part was a little tricky. Cotehardies shown in artwork seem to be really fitted but do not have any seams in the front or back. I managed to accomplish this but the end result hinders mobility a bit which is kind of a bummer.
When I was draping I added darts to get the fabric to fit the form tightly, but I removed these when transferring the pattern onto paper.
Once that was transferred to paper and seam allowances were added I had a pattern. Then I made a mock up.
Here is my mock up being tried on, the left is before pinning, the right is after pinning. I managed to get an okay fit by raising the waistline and shoulder, but even after doing that there is some gaping around the arm opening. That part doesn’t look great, but It’s kind of unavoidable when trying to make something super tight and without seams when you have boobs.
Once my alterations were made to the pattern I cut the pieces out.
At this point I realized the wool suiting I bought was really flimsy. I felt like it would show every lump and bump and not look as hardy as a cotehardie should be (haha). I know with suit jackets interlinings are often used to bulk the material up…but I didn’t have any of those around. So I cut out a layer of flannel and used a random pad stitching(ish) technique to attach it to the wool.
I didn’t bother to add it in the hips, I felt like the fabric stiffness was more important at the front and waist.
When that was done I folded the front edge inward and sewed it down.
Now I had two pieces that looked like this!
This will have a false button closure on it. During this period buttons were used as decorations more often than not. If they were functional they closed with a button loop system, not button holes. I’ve used buttons/loops before and it can become quite finicky, so I decided to make the buttons decorative and have the cotehardie snap closed.
I used bright pink basting stitches to mark the centerline on the lapels, which show where the buttons and snaps will be placed. Then I used chalk to pinpoint where each one would go.
A MILLION YEARS LATER (or nine hours, one or the other) I had all the snaps and buttons attached. I’m really out of practice with sewing these on because it took me so long. It also ripped my fingers up a bit, since I sewed them all on in two days.
Here is what it snapped closed! They don’t all line up perfectly a couple might be a few millimeters off. But it doesn’t effect the look or wear of the garment at all so I don’t mind too much.
Now at this point I realized my cotehardie was pretty boring. And I don’t like making boring things. Even though I liked how the buttons looked, it just wasn’t enough detailing to make it really pop. But I didn’t have any gold trims that would match, so I wasn’t sure what to do.
Then it hit me: I should add lions.
Because when in doubt, add lions, right?
Heraldic cotehardies were actually a thing (as seen here) where a coat of arms/crest/emblem would make up the pattern on a dress or tunic. So using that theme I started googling medieval emblems until I found one I liked. Eventually I came across the “Coat of arms of Castile and León” which had a handy vector image of a lion on it’s wikipedia page.
I ran that through photoshop, then printed out two lions.
When I held these up I realized it would look like two lions framing my crotch. Which wasn’t a great look. So I decided to only use one lion and figured out a different pattern for the other side later on.
I traced the outline of the lion onto double sided fusible interfacing. Then I fused it onto gold spandex, since spandex doesn’t fray I managed to avoid the frustration of turning over each edge, which was awesome.
Finally, I cut the lion out. Which took ages, there are so many fiddly bits!
Then I ironed the lion onto my cotehardie, and tah-dah! Instantly fancier!
For the other side I decided to add fleur de lis, which I traced from this coat of arms.
I cut them out so they looked like this.
Then fused them on.
Before doing anything else I stitched up the side seams and turned the hem inward by an inch.
Then I stitched around the edge of my appliques and added some details with more stitching. I did this with regular cotton thread since I didn’t have any embroidery floss, which isn’t ideal, but I still think it looks pretty good!
Next time I have E6000 out i’m going to add rhinestones to the lions crown and eye. I think that will look neat.
And here it is laid out flat~
After a quick fitting I realized the shoulder fit was pretty bad. So I took it in a bit and added some quilt batting to stand in for shoulder pads. Even that didn’t help very much, since the main issue is that the shoulder was cut too narrow. It is too late to fix that on this piece, but I made a note on the pattern. If I ever use it again i’ll add at least a half inch to that area.
Then I turned the collar and arm holes under so they had pretty finished edges.
Which meant it was time for sleeves! Here is the pattern I drafted for them. It was hard to get them really tight, but also wide enough to have a nice silhouette.
They were cut out of the suiting and sewn up the side.
And the process was repeated with some polyester lining fabric.
Then the lining was sewn to the wool sleeves.
The lower edges of the wool got turned under by a half inch, then the lining was sewn to cover the raw edge.
And I sewed on more buttons! Because you can never have too many of those.
I whip stitched the sleeves on.
Then cut out lining for the body of the garment and sewed that in. This was probably the hardest part since i’ve never lined something with such a curvy shape before. I also took my cotehardie in quite a bit, but didn’t mark those changes on my pattern. So there was some guesswork involved when I used it to cut out the lining.
But I managed!
And now it’s finished (aside from a couple rhinestones)! I love everything except the shoulder fit. The slope on those is a bit to dramatic and they are too narrow. But I think the rest of it is pretty awesome. Especially the lion. That is probably my favorite part.
One piece down, a couple left to go! Worn photos of it will be taken soon, but I want to get the tights and shoes finished first.
Thanks for reading!