Excursion into the old days: basic medieval dressing

Last year I fell in love with historical sewing videos on YouTube. The channels of Bernadette Banner and Morgan Donner are particularly noteworthy. Even though I will probably never have such endless patience when sewing by hand, I would like to try something like this. It's definitely miles beyond my comfort zone, but I want to see how far I can get. What are the differences to modern styles? Maybe I can also learn something.

Let's start easy. At least in patterns. I thought about sewing a basic medieval outfit, a garment that fits into a fairly large time frame. Around 12.-14. century I would say. To my knowledge, this includes at least one long shirt, the medieval equivalent of underwear, and a dress. I would like to sew a so-called cotta, strictly speaking still an underdress, so something for the house. Outside you would have usually put on a surcot, this is a very wide dress without sleeves. But first, shirt and cotta are enough for me.

I am not absolutely sure how a cotta is named in english. Is this the same as a kirtle? Probably yes, I would say. But since I am not absolutely sure, I will stick with cotta.

In the Middle Ages, fabric was a valuable raw material. And often also self-woven, so of course you want to have as little waste as possible. The shift therefore consisted entirely of rectangles and triangular gores, which were sewn in on the side to give the hem more width. Men wore the same shifts, just a little shorter. The shifts were usually made of linen.

In principle, the cotta could be sewn from the same pattern as the shift. In the course of time, however, it became more and more body-hugging and laced. The skirt, on the other hand, would be quite full. The more and the better the material, the richer the wearer and the higher the status. It was no different with our ancestors than it is today.

I will make the cotta quite simple, without lacing, but with a keyhole cutout and so-called S-sleeves. Gores are not only used on the sides, but also in the front and back. At least that is the current plan, because this time I am not going to present the finished project right away, but only now I am starting with it. On Instagram I want to show "Work in progress" pictures every now and then. The project will definitely take a while.

I start with a little teaser. Oh, it's been ages since I drew something recently. I wasn't even aware that I missed it so much.

I had to improvise a bit on the material. I bought a white fabric for the shirt and a blue one for the cotta. However, it is not pure linen, there is still some rayon in it. But it definitely has a nice fall. I will use cotton thread for sewing. I have to look around, I can't remember ever seeing linen sewing thread. Even though cotton was known in Europe in the Middle Ages, it was very expensive. Well, it's still more historical than rayon.

I would have preferred a darker shade of blue, but that too would have been very expensive in the Middle Ages. My basic equipment would be far too simple for the nobility, so I took a lighter blue. Has something of light denim. But I think you could have got such a tone with woad.

Well then, may the journey through time begin. Nobody is more excited than me. : D


Hallo liebe Christina, die Sache mit den historischen Kleidungsstücken finde ich auch sehr interessant! Hut-ab, dass Du Dich da rantraust! Ich schaue es mir gerne an, wenn so schöne Teile vorgeführt werden. Zeigst Du es, wenn es fertig ist? Liebe Grüße Anne
Hallo Anne! Danke dir! Natürlich zeige ich die fertigen Sachen, ich fürchte nur, das wird noch dauern. Ich habe gerade erst die erste Gere zusammengenäht.

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