Drafting the Eleventh Century Overdress

The eleventh century outfit needs and overdress, which means I need a pattern. I want to make one based off a diagram from Kohler’s History of Costume, but the measurements are basically useless to me because my model is a doll.  Fortunately, I have a chemise-y-tunic-y pattern already, and it’s a simple matter to alter that into the overdress pattern I want.

sketch from Kohler

For the record, this is Kohler's sketch of the style I'm shooting for.

Kohler's diagram for the eleventh century overdress

Kohler gives this diagram for a eleventh century overdress on page 138. It's fairly straight-forward, as patterns go.

Kohler's sleeve diagrams from page 139

Ever the helpful fellow, Kohler also gave us a couple of sleeve diagrams on page 139. I like the one on the right.

I’ve mentioned previously that some people really disapprove of Kohler’s work. It’s really next to impossible to verify his measurements and diagrams, or even that he was working with extant pieces to produce them. That said, my luck with it has generally been good, and I just don’t feel that trying to make a up something like the Moy Gown for a 16″ doll is going to do anything good for my sanity. That’s centuries later, anyway. ;)

So, here we go!

pattern pieces from the eleventh century chemise

Grab your eleventh century chemise pattern. I drafted mine on wrapping paper, so it's extra-festive. Teehee....

chemise pieces traced

Trace off those pieces, then draw in the true sewing lines. (ie, remove the seam allowances - in this case, that means I'm drawing lines 1/4" inside my outline).

If you’re looking carefully, you’ll notice that some lines of the drawing aren’t getting a sewing line drawn. The Center front line of the body piece and the Center line of the sleeve don’t have seam allowances, because the pieces are meant to be cut on the fold. Also, I haven’t done anything to my neckline. That’s because I didn’t really cut out the front neckline on my pattern piece – I just transferred the sewing line marks. I’m sneaky like that…

altering the shoulder angle

The first change we're making is the angle of the shoulder. The diagram shows an angled shoulder. We're putting back an angle we took out of the chemise draft (left).

When we used a princess line pattern to draft the chemise, we automatically got an angled shoulder. We had to square it off in later steps.  The fact that it’s back tells me that this pattern will want to sit more closely along the top of the shoulder. It shows a slightly better knowledge of how to fit the body nicely.

angled shoulder line

Draw in an angled shoulder line. I made mine shallower than the original of the chemise draft, because I know Tyler has preternaturally square shoulders...

Next… Drafting the Sideline

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