My mother-in-law (Anna) has a problem. At every event she goes to, she ends up freezing... at least at night. She has a cloak, but it's too heavy and one of the last times she wore it, she actually popped her shoulder trying to put it on! It also does not have a defined neck - the hood and cape are one uncut piece of fabric. So, she has a hard time keeping the cloak on her shoulders. She's asked me to help her make a lighter weight, but still warm cape. This is the patter she chose:
The benefits of this pattern are: 1) a definate seem between the hood and the shoulders, 2) gathering at the front and back (but not over the top of the shoulder) which will provide extra width of material so that the finished cloak will be wide enough to wrap around and "cuddle up" in, and 3) shaped shoulders that, along with the weight of the gathers to front and back *should* help keep the entire cape in place and not falling off the back of her shoulders.
She hasn't chosen her fabric yet, but we will look for lightweight, but densely woven fabrics. Perhaps a velvet for the outside? Maybe a lightweight wool? We will also look at a tightly woven linen or cotton for the inside - something with a smooth finish so that it goes on easy. However, I'm not leaning towards satin because that might go ON easy, but it'll also go OFF easy - and that's what we're trying to avoid! :-)
The one concession that I plan to make in this cloak to "modern comfort over medieval pretty" is a lining that will be attached or removed at will. I plan to sew an extra tab at the neck (like a collar folded down to the inside between the outer and inner layers). This tab will have button holes. I will make a slightly smaller version of the cape (without the hood) out of fleece and put buttons at the neck border. This will be the extra warmth that she can add or remove as needed, but being hidden it won't affect the appearance of the cape.
And now, the kirtle:
This same lady has some fabric that's been sitting around for a little while waiting to decide what it would like to be. :-) It is some "golden wheat" colored corduroy (enough for a full skirt) and a floral tapestry - blue background with gold, tan, and mauve creating the flowers (enough for a bodice). Anna recently decided what she would like made from these fabrics! She brought me two patterns and said "I like this neckline" (a square neckline on a fitted bodice) and, from the other pattern, "these sleeves" (tightly fitted sleeves which taper to the wrist). After some discussion, Anna decided that she'd like standard chemise sleeves which have trim at the joints holding the fabric in closer. As in this chemise from Museum Replicas .
I took the patterns, another picture that she sketched, and what she said about how she'd like the dress made... after some surfing, I found this:
This is from Matilda la Zouche's Wardrobe. It's a really nice blog and her dresses are beautiful. She even shows examples of medieval artwork which provides the documentation and inspiration for the clothing she sews. I suggest you check it out.
Anyway, this seemed to *mostly* fulfill the elements that my mother-in-law would like to have in her new dress: Square neckline, fitted bodice, full skirt, and a seam between the bodice and skirt so that I can use two different fabrics. I'm not sure using a tapestry and a corduroy is exactly "proper" here - in fact, I'm sure it's not, BUT the customer is always right, right? :-) I'm willing to make compromises if this is something she (or whoever I"m sewing for) really wants. When I get to be a "big name" in sewing I'll put my foot down and insist on documentable historical recreations, but for now... it's more important to me that she's happy with what she gets.
We plan to use the blue tapestry fabric for the bodice, the corduroy for the skirt, and a beautiful creamy gold satin that she found for the chemise. We'll make the sleeves fuller and add in ribbon as in the chemise linked above. She would also like a split front skirt to show the chemise. I think she's planning to do some beadwork such as that which is shown on Matilda's hem. She has a nice detail picture on her blog, by the way.
So, the end result won't be exactly "authentic", but it should be what she wants. We've got some work to do getting measurements and drafting patterns. I'll post pictures of the process as we go!