16th Century, Kirtle Sew Along, Sewing, Tutorials, Video Tutorials

A Kirtle Sew Along: Introduction and Materials

A Kirtle Sew Along
Awesome Banner to use if you are playing along! Just have it link to: https://centuries-sewing.com/category/kirtle-sew-along/

So I posted about this on Facebook and on the Renn. costume forum but forgot to post about it here. Opps.

I’ve made a lot of kirtles, in various ways, with various materials and stiffening. I’ve also answered a lot of questions about kirtles, and while I will be the first to tell you I’m not the end all be all fount of kirtle information, I have learned a great deal about them.

I’ve decided to host a kirtle sew along, and go step by step on how I make a basic 16th century kirtle. This will help people just starting out, middle of the road sewers and maybe the experts will pick up a few tricks. I’m going to be posting in a mixture of photos, written instructions and if the weather cooperates, video.

I’m not going to hand sew this one, I tend to use the sewing machine where it will not show and hand finish the parts that will.

Kirtle Sew Along Materials
Wool! Twill! Calico! Linen!

General Materials needed:

I’m giving a rough idea in the amounts listed if you are taller than average or plan to heavily preshrink your fabrics add more yardage.


4 to 5 yards of wool

4 to 5 yards linen for lining or just 2 yards of linen if only lining the bodice and sleeves

1 to 2 yards of twill/drill/canvas for interlining

 2 to 4 yards muslin/calico for flatlining and mock ups

Matching embrodiery thread for eyelets

A roll of paper for patterning, or newspaper can work in a pinch..

Tracing wheel



Hand sewing needles, pins and so forth.

Lacing strips for fitting.


simplicity pattern 3723
Simplicity pattern 3723

After much debate, I decided to use a store bought pattern as a base.  Not everyone has a fitted bodice block, nor does everyone have access to a printer to print one out, or a dress form for draping.

Simplicity 3723 and 2354 is a basic costume pattern in a good range of sizes, the “Pilgrim” dress  has waist darts and bust darts but no other fancy shaping so it is ideal for adapting. And in the U.S. with Halloween coming up they usually put the patterns on sale.




I’ll cover rotating out the darts, adapting the pattern to a curved front bodice, trouble shoot any fitting issues as best I can and any other things that might come up.

I haven’t worked with commercial patterns for a long time so this will be a refresher course for me.

We will be ignoring the pattern instructions, if you have a similar pattern in your stash, feel free to use it instead.




4 thoughts on “A Kirtle Sew Along: Introduction and Materials

  1. Hi Beth, I like to use gabardine wool, which is hard wearing, light weight and usually not too expensive. It is up for debate if that type of wool was around in the 16th century, it was “invented” in the 1870s but in the end it is a twill faced worsted wool. I made my red wool kirtle with fabric from http://www.fabricmartfabrics.com/xcart/Wool-Gabardine/ (I’m not affiliated with them, just a happy customer.) They are also running a 20% off sale on the whole site right now. If you want a wool with a bit more heft to it, wool suiting or a wool flannel is the way to go.

  2. New kirtles are awesome, and knowing people are interested in playing along will help keep me motivated. =D

  3. Hmm… I think I have the wool & linen in my stash, & I know I have a pattern I drafted that works. I *of course* I always need a new kirtle! This might just kick me in the rear to make myself one. Now let’s see if I do it 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.