Hand Sewing a Red Wool Petticoat/Kirtle

Hand sewing my way through another petticoat/kirtle project, this time in a scarlet colored light weight wool.


Sewing the skirt with a spaced back stitch

Sewing the skirt with a spaced back stitch.

Patterning the red wool kirtle.

Patterning the red wool kirtle.







Sewing the bodice with the back stitch

Sewing the bodice with the back stitch.

Sewing down seam allowances with the herringbone stitch.

Sewing down seam allowances with the herringbone stitch.

Betsy Ross House Living History Exhibit: Dressing The Bed

Cutting and ironing the fabric

Cutting and ironing the fabric- Image by Betsy Ross House

I got a lovely email last week about a new living history exhibit. Im a little late in posting about due to house plumbing issues,
but if anyone is in the Philadelphia area it sounds like a great project to check out.

Because I am nosy I asked some questions about the hand stitches that will be used in this project and got a reply back!

From Carol Spacht who is leading the project:

“The stiches are all very simple: running stitch, back-stitch, combination stitch (running & backstitch together) &  plain hem stitch. Seams with raw edges are felled, and seams with selvedges are stitched with either combination or backstitch, and then simply pressed; we are not felling or otherwise finishing-off selvedge seams. In the course of the project, we will be making many eyelets.

We will use a plain overcast stitch (no pearls) for the eyelets; we will also over-hand selvedges when we join  the pieces of linen together for the counterpane and, just for variation, we’ll do a Holland seam for the sheet – a slightly different stitch that is similar to over-handing.  Other stitches that we use with frequency in the shop include: overcasting raw edges, whipstitch, and spaced back-stitch. An interesting question that we are sometimes asked in the shop, regards the period names for stitches.

We have chosen to rely upon the research of Kathleen Kannik,The Lady’s Guide to Plain Sewing. Stitches often have variant names, but it appears that many of the common names that we know stitches by today, were also probably used in the 18th century.”




Cutting the fabric -Image by Betsy Ross House

Cutting the fabric -Image by Betsy Ross House


Nonesuch map market woman

Nonesuch Market Woman

Starting off the New Year with finishing a big project!

More photos can be found on the Nonesuch costume page.

Market woman front shot Nonesuch map market woman

Pad-stitching all the interlinings!

Lots of hand sewing this week, I’ve gotten very good at pad-stitching. So far I’ve done the layered interlining of a jerkin and I’m almost done pad-stitching the same for the Saxon Gown bodice.

Black velvet jerkin pad-stitched interlining


Pad-stitched Saxon Gown interlining

Cranach the Elder 1528, portrait of a young woman holding grapes and apples.

16th Century Chocolate Saxon Gown Project: The Bodice

I have always liked Saxon Gowns, they have a different look from the French and English gowns of the early 16th century, they have interesting construction puzzles, and an excuse to use several yards of velvet and fancy fabric is always a good thing.

saxon gown fabrics, brown velveteen and jaquard

After going back and forth with a friend on just how these gowns were put together, looking at lots and lots of paintings, and seeing what other costumers have done I decided to make one for myself.


I picked up some brown velveteen for cheap along with some jacquard in a similar color and started plotting.

I started a pinterest board for Cranach styled gowns to get an overview of what style elements I wanted to incorporate.

I have always been fond of the tall collared styled gowns and I haven’t seen many of them recreated so that is what I set my sights on.

Cranach the Elder 1528, portrait of a young woman holding grapes and apples.













I dug out my tall collared doublet pattern to use as a base for the bodice, this version of the patterns has a few issues so it would need a bit of adjustment to get things right.

fitted gown back collar wrinkles

One of the issues with my doublet pattern, too tall in the collar and the base of the neck is too wide.

Doublet pattern base

Doublet pattern base

I cut out a mock-up in muslin adjusted the collar and the back of the neck.

That basted in place I put it on my dress form and marked where the bust point fell on the form.

But when I tried the mock-up on, where I marked the bust point on the form, is not where my bust point is. This is important as I’m using the bust point as a marker for where the edge of the gowns fall.



So I marked on the mock-up where my bust point hit. This also gives me the basis for how wise the front gap will be in the finished gown. Once that was marked I trued up my edges and starting at the bust point flared the front out to form the collar, and I am left with a pretty good base for the gown bodice. The only thing left to adjust is the back collar.

Bust point to flared collar

Flaring the collar out, starting at the bust point

Saxon Gown bodice mock up1

Saxon Gown bodice mock-up















Lucas DeHeere sketchbook #71

A little bit of progress on my black wool kirtle

I managed to sneak in a little bit of hand sewing this past week.


Seamstresses sewing smocks or linen goods? Tacuina Sanitatis, Wikipedia

Early 14th that turned into 15th Century Kirtle

Family medical things have kept me from sewing but I’ve managed to work a little bit on this, here are some work in progress photos.

It still needs some work. The shoulders need to come up about 1/2 an inch to an inch, armscye needs to get cut down, sleeves reset after that, eyelets, hem evened and bound, small wedge added to the side seams to give me enough room in the bust, neckline needs to be wider and come down more.


Working on another Ruff!

I had two or three days with my internet not working or being on again, off again. So I started another hand sewn ruff (I may have a problem).

I just finished putting the neckband on and this time I made sure to sew down every tiny pleat that I could on both sides. I have no idea how they managed to sew the pleats to the band in the 16th century without high-powered lights, I had issues even with my ott light over my shoulder. I adjusted (enhanced!) the photo to show the stitching.


Hand sewn ruff close up

Finished Elizabethan ruff with 3 inch and 1/4th set

Starching an Elizabethan Ruff Video Tutorial

If the embed doesn’t work, http://youtu.be/JdCsH4QUJBY


The finished Elizabethan ruff and some progress photos.