A dress from 1250

Made in 2003

This outfit is based on the Maciejowski Bible, a french manuscript from ca 1250, which can be viewed at Medieval Tymes website. This type of tunic is worn by women and men alike, although women's tunics of course are floor length (after you've put on your belt, you can pull it further up for working, but the proper length is to the ground), while the men have tunics reaching to their ankles. I made this tunic especially for wearing when it's hot and for working.
The most common headwear for women with this type of dress seems to be a wrap or bag of linen cloth, as seen on the second picture, but on married women you sometimes see a wimple and veil , as I'm wearing on the first picture.

There are several examples of women with the sleeves hanging but they could also be tied behind the back, which can be seen on a leaf of the Maciejowski Bible which depict the adulterous affair of David and Batsheba, where the servant woman who brings Batsheba bath water has tied her sleeves behind her back. In the picture to the right I've tied my sleeves that way.
But of course you could also wear the sleeves on, examples can be seen here and here.

If you look at all these images you can see how the sleeve was made. Apparently the front part and some of the back of the armscye is left unconnected to the sleeve. Based on the shape of the sleeve of the contemporary Söderköping tunic I decide to make a sleeve with the seam on the outside of the arm, as in 14th century clothes and modern suit jackets.
The tunic is based on rectangular construction and has shallow armscyes and set in sleeves, as noted above. Below you can see my pattern, in scale 1:20. My chest measurement is 112 cm and the ideal shoulder to floor length for me is between 150 (for something not so fancy and worn unbelted) and 155 cm. Except for your sleeve pattern, where you at least need arm length and wrist measurement, that's all the measurements you need for making this type of tunic.



After taking your chest measurement, add 20 cm, divide it in two and there you have the width of the front and back pieces before the gores are added. The more gores and the wider, the more luxurious your garment, but since this is a working woman's tunic it only has four gores.
It is entirely handsewn, with unbleached linen thread (60/3). Since the colour of the thread and the colour of the fabric is so different i choose not to fell the seams and stitch them down, but to use blanketstitch over the seam allowances, a technique that is documented from 12th century finds from Lödöse in south-west Sweden (30 km from where I live).
The fabric is a compromise with my wallet. It is a wool/cotton blend, which probably isn't period. Cotton was used in Europe at this time, but mostly in combination with linen and while fabric made with linen warp and wool weft was quite common, I doubt that wool and cotton was woven together this way. (It was common in the 18th century, not that that matters, just some useless info)
I think it looks like wool, but then wool can look like almost anything, from silk to polyester, from coat weight to thin enough to make veils.
The shift is also handsewn and made of linen, I wear the same wool twill hose as I wear with my french peasant dress.

These are the shoes I'm wearing with this outfit, made after a pair of 13th century Scandinavian shoes. My friend Anna made them for me.

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