Drafting the Eleventh Century Overdress

drawing the arm slit

Connect the shoulder line with the sideline of the dress. This is the armscye (or arm slit, in this case). The sleeve head needs to be about the same size as the slit it fits into.

choosing the sleeve length

The over-sleeve is slightly shorter than the undersleeve. I'm taking it to about where the embroidery on the undersleeve is.

drawing the sleeve head

The sleeve head is a smooth arc, the same length as the arm slit. My arm slit is 1 1/4" long, so I've drawn my arc with 5 1/4" lines. That's fair.

extending the sleeve

Mark the end of the sleeve head. Now, start an angled line for the sleeve's seam.

finishing the sleeve seam

Kohler's diagram indicates that the bottom of the sleeve runs at a greater angle than the top, so I'm doing that.

finished sleeve

Well, there's a sleeve.... But I think I'd like it wider!

sleeve redrawn

So I just redrew the sleeve head (to make it a shallower arc) and and the sleeve seam (at greater angles). Voila! Much wider!

Now, at this point, I’d like to add seam allowances to everything. To do that, I need to (carefully) trace off the front and the back pieces so that they are no longer one piece. Old patterns that combined pieces like this didn’t really include seam allowances. That’s pretty gosh-darned modern. Patterns used to just show sewing lines. That’s actually a really cool way to do things, because it lets the seamstress choose what kind of seams she wants and allow herself the right amount of fabric. In this case, I plan to hand-fell the seams to the inside of the dress. For that, I need 3/8″ instead of my normal 1/4″.

finished pieces

And there are the finished pieces! Don't forget, the Center Front, Center Back, and Sleeve Center are all going to be cut on the fold, so they don't get seam allowances!

Yay!  I’ve actually got the darn thing cut out of that slightly dreary bog-scum-green wool that the pieces are on. (I really associate the middle ages with bog people, primarily because the Moy dress came from a bog. (Yes, I know most of them are from way earlier….) That might explain both the color choice and several of the reasons that I don’t find the early middle ages terribly attractive. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen any of the bog people – they’re amazing, fantastic, and icky-grim. Sort of like mummies with better moisturizer. The archeological evidence for human sacrifice, in many cases, does nothing to cheer me up about them!) So, anyway, dead people to one side, the dress is about half assembled. Given that the Chicago area is in the middle of Snowmageddon, I expect I’ll have time to finish felling the seams this evening.

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