1320s Dress: Possible patterns

Today’s installment of 1320s dress research is a collection of online tutorials, free patterns (printable, scalable, cutting diagrams with measurements, et c), draping instructions/advice, reconstructed garments with dressmaking diaries (in-process photos and notes about lessons learned) or research information, commercial patterns, and a couple of shops offering ready-made options.  All about 14th century cotehardies, cottes, kirtles, and other terms for long-skirted dresses fitted in the torso.

For Walpurgis, I think it will be right to have a fitted dress underneath, and a less fitted surcoat, but most of these cover suitable variations on the shape or silhouette of the dress, close enough that the exact fittedness should be easy to adjust.  I’ll (probably, sometime) do up a separate post noting what details the Walpurgis dress should have based on the source material.

No pictures today; there’s a bajillion links, and pictures are fussy.

Books and commercial patterns

The Medieval Tailor’s Assistant (book) might be the best overall bang-for-buck option for someone expecting to sew other medieval garments or outfits, since it has a ton of patterns plus instructions and period sewing advice and everything.  Working with patterns from a bound book can be annoying, but I have the benefit of a projector to scale patterns with, which might make it hurt less.
Some examples of cottes made from this book: 1350-1400 short sleeve cote; long-sleeve buttoned/laced kirtle

Rosalie’s Medieval Woman has reviews of big-name commercial patterns.

Rosalie’s favorite is Simplicity Burda 7977  and I believe her assessment. It looks like a solid pattern and is guaranteed to have good instructions, but the sleeves look baggy, especially in the upper arms and armscyes.  (And having read the “How I learned to reach for my own pottery” article linked below, I am much more sure that’s a big problem for a swordswoman’s dress!)  Big-name pattern publishers are notorious for nudging historical garment patterns a little more modern when making them more accessible to the modern home tailor (famously, a Regency undergarments pattern had ease added to the stays), which might explain those differences.

For many time periods, Reconstructing History is the only game in town.  I’m not totally enamored of their patterns (and a lot of my costuming acquaintances aren’t either), so I might lean away from them for this project since there are other options.
Reconstructing History: long or short sleeve kirtle or cotehardie

Reconstructing History: 10-gore Greenland dress

“Patterns of Time” appears to be a sewing and pattern shop with great selection covering lots of eras with patterns from lots of publishers as well as embroidery kits, metal buttons and things, and that’s great, but they’ve made it fairly hard to find anything, partly by sloppy SEO, which annoys me enough to think I’d rather shop somewhere else.
Wingeo patterns: 10th-16th c surcote and pelicon – a pelicon is a fur-lined robe,so this pattern is all overdresses.  The sleeveless style could potentially suit Walpurgis. There might also be a Wingeo cotehardie pattern.
La Fleur de Lyse: 1240-1320 People of the Medieval Gothic Period offers views (variations/combinations possible with this pattern package) for six outfits (shirt, dress, robe/surcoat, cloak, and headwear) for men and women, working and merchant-or-higher class.  The woman at upper left looks like she might do for a Manesse-style sleeveless-not-sideless surcoat.  This is a much better bargain than the Reconstructing History total Medieval outfit bundle (which has additional stuff like hose, but doesn’t cover both men and women in one package).  Of the commercial patterns I’ve looked at today, this might be my favorite, but I’d want to look up reviews and dress diaries and that kind of thing before deciding on it for certain, especially to see what skill level the instructions are suited for.
Period Patterns: 14th-15th century cotehardies and sideless surcoats these look like lovely patterns, but I think too late and too fancy for Walpurgis.

Renstore’s Patterns page might be mostly Period Patterns, but helps with the flood of options that many pattern shops bombard you with: there are a limited number of only Medieval and Renaissance european historical patterns, each of which has many views and options.

Note to self, if ordering one of these consider also ordering an Italian Renaissance Overdresses pattern.

Simple, basic, and generic patterns

Patterns and tutorials intended for beginning sewers (or experienced sewers in a hurry), with less focus on accuracy and detail.

Amie Sparrow: easy t-tunic dress inspired by Manesse (there is an accompanying headwear tutorial).  This creates an unfitted, pull-over dress that is a good staple for “generic garb,” and which could be fitted and have closures added.

Sally Pointer: Simple, generic medieval dress tutorial.  This is extremely simple construction (it’s made entirely of rectangles which are shaped after it’s put together) and produces an okay-looking result.  It’s not a pull-over garment, which can be fitted to varying degrees of closeness and will need a closure put in (buttons, lacing holes, et c) which will be the bulk of the sewing time and work.

Those two methods are quick and easy and not scary (or not very scary), and could be fitted after they’re made up to get a better look, but the big caution about them is probably the least obvious to someone new to sewing: they will feel really weird to move around in.  The Sally Pointer dress in particular is more a dress-shaped thing optimized for simple geometry and fast sewing. (And I don’t mean to knock it objectively– there are times and places when this is extremely useful.)  It’s not a good pick for a swordswoman’s dress; the arms and shoulders are not going to move well, and definitely won’t look good while doing it.

Rosalie Gilbert’s Medieval woman: generic kirtle patterning tutorial with sewing instructions Rosalie finishes hers with details for late 14th century. This is much less basic than the previous ones, but I’m putting it in “simple, basic, generic” because it isn’t detailed instructions for an accurate dress– it’s a somewhat more accurate method of faking it.  Rosalie actually has an even simpler easy medieval gown that’s between the kirtle and Amie Sparrow’s T-tunic dress for complexity. The kirtle begins with a thrift-shop blazer that has back-of-arm seams (similar to a medieval dress’s back of arm seams) and deconstructs it to get bodice pattern pieces.  Note: while this method may look easier and less intimidating, this looks to me more like instructions for someone used to making modern clothes than instructions for a total beginner.

Complete process

Websites with instructions that show, describe, have instructions, or have patterns sufficient to make a complete long-sleeve fitted-torso fourteenth-century dress.

Tasha Kelly’s La Cotte Simple has a lot of information on fitted dresses.  I would venture that more than half of the reconstructed dresses I’ve looked at (for this period and also for the Italian Renaissance project!) mention Tasha Kelly or La Cotte Simple.  Her articles are all on somewhat specific subjects, but they cover two different ways of fitting the dress bodice, making a bodice pattern into a dress pattern, doing the neckline well, the (functional, rather than historical) importance of layers in medieval clothing, and more.

Dame Helen has an extensive research website for medieval clothes based on extant examples.  The cotehardie page talks a bunch about using Herjolfsnes research
She also has a crash course in early 1300s working class clothing, based on the Luttrell Psalter

Morgan Donner has a detailed tutorial for a cottesimple-based dress styled for 1400 or later, but with lots of good sewing detail and tips. This alone won’t get you a dress, but would be super helpful to supplement a pattern from another source.

By My Measure has a whole series on making and fitting a cotehardie, available in several PDFs
The first link on that page is for a semi-standalone demonstration of the fitting process, similar but not identical to CotteSimple.  It’s not a PDF, so you’ll want the archived version with images.
To help me find it later, here’s a separate non-PDF link to just the sleeve part of the series, called “Farm Boy, Fetch Me That Pitcher, or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Reach My Own Damn Pottery.”  I can’t say yet whether it has demystified sleeves for me, but I feel like it’s already helped.

The Medieval Tailor (no relation to the assistant) has a multi-page tutorial with pattern for a front-opening kirtle with buttoned sleeves.

The Chesholme House has cotehardie drafting and construction instructions based on extant garments, and lots more costume resources (for various styles and periods).  They also have a program to create a pattern for an 8 panel houppelande (based on a Herjolfsnes garment) using height and chest measurement; shows overall shape with lettered points, and lists distances between points and explanations for what they signify.

Sew4ConsDotCom published several printable patterns for free, including a “princess-seamed” cotehardie (ie, 4 or more panels across the front) as a multi-size (6-16) free pattern for  with moderately-detailed instructions.  Note that the front and back are separate files.  A separate post has plus sizes and a background article.  She offers advice on printing her patterns. This creator also has a 1480s giornea pattern I might want for my Renaissance dress.

Neulakko has a tutorial for a medieval supportive undergarment dress (English) that would go under a cotte.

Reconstructions with details about sewing or research

silverstah: wool gothic fitted dress (cotehardie) not a ton of information here, but the caption mentions some research papers I might want to look up later.  Although, having done a lot more reading since I found this, the articles mentioned are Tasha Kelly and Mathilde Bourette and those names are familiar enough they’re probably elsewhere in this list.  Anyway, nice example of a dress.

Neulakko’s research and details about a late 14th century gown with removable buttons

Eva Andersson’s st clare’s gardecorps and Codex Manesse outfit

Morgan Donner has a bunch of interesting posts: skirt tuckinglate 14th century dress, dress diary for cottesimple sleeveless dress

This gown, based on Herjolfsnes patterns, could be something like the long-sleeved overgowns in Codex Manesse– many of the overgowns aren’t closely fitted below the bust.  Matilda also made a reconstruction of the Moy gown, an Ireland bog find estimated to come from the 1350s or later.

Eleanor le Brun wrote about garment closures in the 14th-16th centuries, but sadly the images are broken and the web archive doesn’t have them either.


Many reconstructions base at least part of their pattern on garments from the Herjolfsnes archeological site in Greenland.  It seems like those garments are more likely 1350-1410, but there just aren’t a lot of extant garments earlier than that, or at least, not ones in big enough pieces to meaningfully recreate.

Here’s one of I. Marc Carlson’s Herjolfsnes patterns

Anna Attiliani used it for this lovely blue dress   She has lots of nice dresses and posts good info about them, including updates when she discovers conflicting or better research, but her focus seems to be 1350 and later.

More Herjolfsnes patterns by Carlson
Carlson’s book-organized website

S. Findahl’s 10-gore cotehardie is partly based on a Herjolfsnes garment.  Text is in Swedish; I didn’t read all the pages she links to.

Neulakko has a dress tutorial in Finnish about a Herjolfsnes dress

Ready-made garments

Historic Enterprises kirtle

Historic Enterprises complete kirtle outfit


Other information

Cynthia Virtue: A collection of tips that seem to mostly be about headwear

Atlantia SCA has an extensive useful links resource.  Here’s the Fourteenth Century section.

Hantverkat’s tutorials in swedish

The Weeb Site has some very basic scalable free patterns with brief instructions

Communitas Monacensis has some basic pattern shapes for men’s garments seen in Codex Manesse, and also information and some pattern shapes for women’s garments in Manesse and other sources







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