A 15th Century Princess Gown Part II || Historical Sewing


Hello there and welcome back to part 2 of
this 15th century adventure, in which I am attempting to recreate this gown from ‘Saint
George Slaying the Dragon’ by Jost Haller, dated c 1450. If you missed part 1, you may wish to go back
and give that a quick watch—unless of course you’re only interested in sleeves and trimmings
and finishings, in which by all means do stick around. Without further ado, let’s go finish this
lady. When I left you last, I had just completed
the long process of seaming together the gown panels and checking the fit, so now it’s
time to finish off all these seams. This is done by trimming one side of the seam
allowance to a narrow width, so that the other side can be folded over both edges and stitched
down with a felling stitch—or whip stitch to encase all of the fraying. Funnily enough, I spent so many piecemeal
hours doing this over about two weeks and never actually managed to turn on the camera
for any of it—but not to worry, there’s plenty more felling to come if you need a
demonstration. The center front edges, if you remember, were
cut along the selvedge. This was a common practice used throughout
history in order to save fabric and to eliminate the extra bit of time in trimming and folding
for felled seams, since selvedges can just be running stitched down and won’t fray. Many archaeological finds from the medieval
period actually exhibit raw cut seams finished in this way, but hand-woven fabrics tended
to be much more tightly woven and less prone to fraying, unlike my modern machine woven
fabric; so I’ve just kept with felling for the rest of my seams. And now that the base of the gown is complete,
it’s time to get started on the sleeves. The gown in the painting appears to have a
false under sleeve attached to the long sleeve of the gown. I assume this is the case, rather than it
being the sleeve from an undergown or kirtle, since we do get to see a bit of her shift
between the wide center front opening, with no hint of a green kirtle—or the closures
for one—at this point. False under sleeves are something I understand
to have been a common feature of gowns in the Tudor period a couple of decades later,
so this probably isn’t entirely impossible. So I’ve found this beautiful green changeable
silk on 39th Street which I plan to use for the under sleeves. If you recall from Part 1, my experiment with
marking out the wool in quill and ink was very successful. I decided to try out this method on the silk
with the sleeves and it was much less successful. The silk is much more loosely woven and so
the ink wanted to spread and soak through to the other side. 0/10, would not recommend this method for
finer fabrics. Then I’m just stitching together the sleeve
seams with a very small backstitch. Since the silk thread I’m using is very
fine, I’ve doubled the thread to strengthen the seam, but this probably wouldn’t be
necessary with a heavier thread. Now I’ve decided to put a button placket
in the cuffs of the sleeves, since this was a very common feature of the period in order
to achieve that fashionable tight-fitted look. You can’t see them on the gown in the painting,
but judging from how tightly her sleeves are fitted—without, of course, the generous
help of spandex—I have to surmise that there is some sort of closure method at the inside
seam of the sleeves in order to achieve that fit. Surviving sleeves show that buttonhole edges
were faced with a layer of strong linen—or silk, in the case of finer fabrics such as
this, and so I’ve gone ahead and cut a facing to add to the underside of my buttonhole edge. This has also been backstitched to the edge
of the sleeve seam right sides together, then flipped inside to finish the edge. Then I started marking out the buttonholes—lightly!—with
ink. I did do a sample of this beforehand, which
I highly recommend before starting the buttonhole process, so I knew that the buttons I picked
for this project would require a 1/2 inch hole to go through. Now because this stitch takes quite a bit
of explaining if you’re not yet familiar with it, I’ve gone ahead and filmed a separate
video tutorial if you need a quick lesson on hand-finishing your buttonholes. But since you’re probably just here to see
the making of a 15th century dress, however, I’m going to spare you the details for now
and just get on with it. And now for buttons! Metal cast buttons are a common find in medieval
archaeological sites—though I must disclaim that these look quite different from the ones
that I was able to find in the garment district. These are quite pretty, but from images the
extant examples I found for reference, medieval buttons tended to be flatter, cast in two
halves, with a metal shank on the back. The ones I picked I think are actually supposed
to be beads; I’ve rigged them up with a bit of thread so they attach in a similar
way as the thread-wrapped button styles common by the 16th century, but there probably isn’t
much historical validity to this decision. Oh, and for some reason I forgot to finish
the edges of the sleeve seam when I stitched it together earlier, so I’m doing that now—with
that felling stitch I was talking about earlier. Then I’m just quickly finishing off the
cuff edges with a bit more turning and felling. Ok ok but back to the buttons! I’m using a large tapestry needle to thread
the tails of the button shank through. Then I can just push it through the fabric
where I want the button to sit, and tie it off securely at the back. I tried this at first by making a hole with
an awl and then pushing the tails through, as I thought might have been the more likely
historical method, but this proved to create too large a gap in the weave of the fabric
and the knot at the inside wouldn’t stop the button from pulling free. This method was much more effective—though
I was still too afraid to cut off the excess tails in case they ever need to be re-tied,
so, shhh… Also, I just forgot to address this at the
time, but the edge is just finished off with a really tiny felled hem. I suspect that historically this hem would
have fully encased the beautifully trimmed knots on the inside, but again…I was mistrustful
and wanted to have easy access to them if I needed. This probably wouldn’t have been an issue
with tighter-woven historical fabrics. So now it’s time for the over sleeves. Forewarning here that there is a massive amount
of conjecture in how I decided these sleeves work, so do proceed with caution. I decided that the seam for these sleeves
needs to run down the back of the arm, since there doesn’t appear to be a seam down front
on the painting—and this way I could insert a gore in back to help achieve that voluminous
amount of fabric at the hem. This meant that, in order to be able to even
remotely move my arms, I had to cut a slit to insert a gusset at the underarm point. Again, absolutely zero evidence for this,
but the sleeves just wouldn’t be functional without it; and hey, gussets in general are
period appropriate, so. By the way, I found it really helped to get
my head around the pattern for these sleeves before drafting by making a wee sample piece
just to get an idea of the general shape. Definitely recommend if you’re like me and
extremely geometrically challenged. The piece ended up to be a bit wider than
my fabric, but that’s okay; back in the days of narrower fabric widths and a more
conservative attitude towards fabric usage, piecing was very very common. Speaking of clever fabric usage, this triangular
cutout for the front slit of the sleeve will be inserted at back as a gore. And the pieces are marked out—much more
successfully with the ink on the wool, this time. Now since we get a bit of contrast material
on the reference gown, I’ve made the assumption that the sleeves are lined with a nice peachy
changeable silk; so now I’m just going ahead and repeating the marking and cutting process
for the under sleeve lining. And this time I’m not going to attempt the
ink here with the silk. I know through later periods of dressmaking,
charcoal, graphite and chalk were also used in marking pieces—so I’m taking the liberty
of employing some white tailor’s chalk to mark these out. Yes there is an additional piecing on this
one, since the silk was a bit narrower than the wool and I also needed a piecing for the
gore triangle. First thing’s first is to get the piecings
on so we have our full pattern pieces again. I tried to do that clever thing where at least
one edge of a seam is cut on a selvedge to eliminate having to turn an extra time in
finishing, but then I remembered that the under sleeve is lined so I don’t have to
finish the raw edges anyway. The piecings are attached with a quick running
backstitch. These seams aren’t structural and don’t
need to take any stress, so speed was definitely more my priority over strength. Now to start actually putting the sleeves
together. I’m starting by pinning the gore into place
with the tip finishing just at the elbow point. I’m then stitching it into place with a
running back stitch, using some linen thread. I had dyed this with the intention of matching
the red fabric, but it came out decidedly pinker than intended. Ah well; maybe it’s a bit better than white. And again, this is repeated on the lining
pieces. Then the center back seam can be finished,
running straight down the other side of the gore panel. Once again, this is attached using a running
back stitch. Then I can finally put the lining and fabric
pieces together. To finish off the edges, I started by turning
in the edges of both layers and slip stitching them together, but for the hem edge I figured
out that the layers could be turned and felled, which I think might be the slightly more historically
accurate method. Now I’m inserting the under sleeves, matching
them up (without balance marks, because I am a heathen), and basting them together. Then they’re attached to the gown with a
strong back stitch, using plain heavy linen thread. Then I’m finishing off the raw edge of the
armscye by felling it down with some red silk thread. This was a bit of a struggle since I had cut
my upper seam allowance a little bit too narrow, so it ended up a bit sloppier than I had hoped. Then I’m finishing them hem with—you guessed
it—some more felling. You might have noticed that I like to anchor
my seams at the nearer end, here by pinning it to a small cushion. This was a common practice used throughout
history, and I’ve become quite fond of it; it allows you to pull the fabric taught and
keep the work at a nice tension, so your stitches are more even and go much quicker. And now it’s just time for a bit of finishing. The reference gown gets some little gold detail
round the neck edge. I found a nice semi-metallic trim here in
the garment district, which seemed to have a nice echo of the dotted effect on the reference
gown. This just gets folded in half over the raw
edge and felled into place with a plain lightweight linen thread. I played with the idea that this might be
beading. I imagined that beadwork as chunky as it seems
in the picture would be quite heavy and would want to warp against the bias edges. A bit of metallic trim, however, would not
only reinforce the edge with a bit of stiffness and strength, but could also act as a binding
for the raw edge. So this is what I decided to go with. Right at the top of the sleeve slits is a
small bit of lacing, so now I’m just putting in the eyelet holes for that. Remember, when making your eyelet holes, use
an awl to gently separate the weave of the fabric without actually breaking any of the
threads to ensure that your eyelet holes are durable and your fabric remains stable. Once the eyelets are all bound off, I like
to go through and widen them a bit more with a bodkin—but since I don’t actually have
a proper bodkin, I’m just using one of my hair pins. It works just the same. Then the lace can be inserted into the eyelet
holes. This is a 5-strand finger loop braid that
I plaited myself in a previous video, if you’re curious on how to make some historically accurate
lacing strands for yourself. And last but not least, the closures! I found some nice little cast metal hook clasps
here in the garment district that have a similar feel to the ones in the painting—but of
course probably have very little actual historical authenticity. This is something that I decided to just embrace,
since I don’t at present have the resources to cast them—or have them cast—custom. And with that, the gown is complete. Similar enough? I know I addressed the possibility of a waist
seam in my previous video in order to achieve the pleating effect happening at center front
of the reference. I wish I’d also cut the slits in the sleeves
a bit higher. And used whatever sorcery was applied to achieve
those perfectly smooth sleeves and bodice. But I guess we can’t have it all. For the photos I just used a metal plate girdle
that I had handy—a style that was utilised in the period—but the one in the reference
clearly isn’t made from metal pieces. I discovered that many extant girdles were
tablet woven in narrow, girdle-sized widths—and in this case looks as if it might contain
metallic fibres. So as soon as I take up tablet weaving, I
shall get back to you with an updated replica. So that’s all for this project! Thanks for sticking with it this far, I hope
it was at least vaguely of interest. I’m always over here making things by hand
and generally just screaming about the wonders of historical dress, so if you want to join
in the fun, tap that little red button down there, and I shall see you soon on my next
historical sewing adventure.

100 comments

  1. Wow, I adore this. I appreciate the attention to detail that went into making this dress! I recently started sewing, and I am mostly interested in sewing vintage and historical clothing. Your videos are fascinating and I am looking forward to more! They inspire me even more to begin creating my own historical costumes. What advice would you have for a beginner venturing into the world of historical costuming?

  2. Wonderful! It's gorgeous! Brings the painting to life! Great job! I too used the mini paper model technique on my medieval bell sleeve adventures 😉

  3. My eyes have welled up seeing the finished article on you, I almost can't believe what I have just watched! I am inspired and speechless. I want to save your tutorial forever, at least until I can afford the space and fabric to sew a dress for myself. I was mesmerised throughout, good show!!

  4. my grandma used thin slices of harsh soap for marking the fabric. Very historical I believe 🙂 Love your channel.

  5. "…because i'm a heathen" 🤣🤣🤣

    I could watch your videos all day. Fascinating. I can't even fathom all the hours and hours of work that went into these original garments. I watched a documentary about Elizabeth I dresses and wow. Amazing.

  6. I bet as a child she played dress up a lot! Which is great! I also would play dress up and always was pretending to be a princess like most girls when they are little! I wished I lived back in those days but since I have grown up and found out how people lived back then and even princesses it was a hard life compared to today! Also hygiene was a issue and I bet even the upper class probably had an body odor bad, we today would consider that unhygienic and nasty! But if you lived back then at least you had company of other stinky people around you too! Won't be singled out! I also learned a few years ago that castles were very smelly, they think it was a like a big huge portapottie only it was made out of stone! Gross, and having piss pots and then throwing your waste out the window proved to be risky if you were walking under that window at the time when they dumped that waste! So if you ever see a little girl and she wants to pretend to be a princess please don't spoil it for her let her have her fun, sooner or later she will know the truth no need to ruin her fun! Childhood goes way too fast for to be ruined let kids have that quick moment before it's gone!

  7. Just found your channel! You are such a gifted artist and your work is beautiful! Thank you for sharing this with us.

  8. OMG! Thank you for charing your knollage! It was so facinating to watch and listening to your skilled explenations! Many many thanks!💕 You have now one new eager follower!

  9. absolutely beautiful dress from the painting and from the handwork you did and sewing it and putting it together they look almost identical you did a beautiful job

  10. There are very few videos that I'm tempted to give a standing ovation when I finish them because they were so well done, this was one of them lol. That gown was EVERYTHING.

  11. Wow. As an artisan who restores antiques and has hand sewn quilts and other items I must say WOW. Your eye for detail is amazing!

  12. What a beautiful gown! It brought back memories of making my own costumes when I was a character in a renaissance festival back in my youth. Of course, we didn't worry as much about historical accuracy in the early 80's since most of our patterns had to be adapted from Simplicity and McCall's. Well done.

  13. I can sew but it’s usually only when I have to fix a button or something. I actually haven’t made anything in quite some time but you are making me want to pick it back up

  14. I love watching your work and you have inspired me to do some hand sewing on my next project.
    Thank you for the inspiration you have provided me.

  15. Thank you for the sources, I'm going to make a 13th century dress for my girlfriend (currently working on the kirtle), and all sources are welcome.

  16. Browsing WW2 German wool uniform variation and end up watching 15th century dress construction, the deviation of which history nerds are highly susceptible to.

  17. Appsolutely amazing . Its so much fun to watch your video's and listen to your passionated stories about historical clothes. Keep up the good work!!

  18. After watching a few your videos, I realized that a course on drafting would be essential for attempting a historical pattern 🤔😹🤩

  19. Bernadette, You gotta watch this show 'A stich in time". Fashion historian and seamstresses work together to recreate historical outfits. I think you would love it!

  20. This is absolutely spectacular! I adore everything about this. Your pictures at the end were gorgeous!!! Please keep up the beautiful work!

  21. Quite impressive and really quite amazing…yet one does have to wonder 🤔 At the root of this way back when when having to go through all this just to dress…why one just didn’t stay naked 😳 Whoa! Note this is coming from a sweatpants and flannel kinda girl 🤪 as if one couldn’t guess 😉 Regardless a very BIG ThumbsUp!

  22. The perfect match with my energy level and attention to detail.

    I love this work so much. Went out of my way to find it after that knockoff bought for 40 bucks or something video, it didn't even compare. The amount of information and research put into this, don't even know if "commendable" is of the right degree of intensity to describe my adoration for it but Bernadette has my respect as a fellow artist.

    A masterpiece of little to no compromises made, who doesn't dream of that? True craftsmanship and dedication right there.

  23. Thank you so much for a fascinating insight into historical sewing – the gown looked beautiful, as did you in it. I am not a seamstress, mending things is my only foray into such unknown waters, but I really appreciate a skilled enthusiast. Thank you again! And thank you for the introduction to Mrs Crocombe & Audley End – what a fascinating person and place

  24. I think you captured the gown 100% except that. In modern times we use FaceTune to edit videos and the painter did that with his own paint and imagination

  25. There's a Brazilian cloth designer that uses similar methods for making clothes patterns, his name is Jum Nakao
    His work is amazing

  26. I'm here from the pirated dress video. The more clothes I purchase and quickly wear to rags (shouldn't that eighty dollar dress have lasted at /least/ a few years?), and even the more ten-dollar 75% spandex "jeans" I pour my money into only to throw them out after walking merely a couple hundred miles, thre more frustrated I get with the clothing industry, the more tempting it is to just make my own clothing. Even if each garment would last several years, and making my own clothes would give me all the freedom to be eccentric and eclectic, just the thought of the investment of getting started makes me procrastinate.

    But I could wear clothes that make me look good…………. >.>

  27. I love the way you talk. Your voice and vocabulary are so elegant and relaxing. This is such a weird thing to notice, but I felt it had to be said.

  28. i'm going to be one of "those people" and ask, is there anywhere i can find historically accurate patterns at all? i know i found some in a butternic pattern book once but i can't vouch for any accuracy and i just wanted to know if you had any advice or better sources then i've been finding.

  29. did you have a reference pattern for the upper sleeves. I've done 14th century reenactment or a while now and made all my own dresses but that oversleeve is doing my head in. I'm on the sixth failed mock-up: Help!

  30. Ya know? I'm really picky on dresses because when I wear 90% of the dresses bought in stores or even stitched I find them itchy inside. When I saw the stitch inside the dress in this video it's clean and just by looking at the fabric it looks comfortable and something I would wear. I appreciate your hard work. I like this dress a lot. Hope i could find one in the future more like these.

  31. I gave u a thumbs up just for sewing it by hand thats respectable. But is not valuable enough to say that the cost will be 1500$ i think could be closer to 150$ as price for a hand sewing beginer (I want to be clear JUST FOR MAKING IT.. it doenst include the prices of materials). And thats becouse it doesnt have the level hand sewing to pay that quantity of money and with it I refer a video i've saw when you are showing up a really, but really bad copy of ur work made it somewhere in china probably ( they should be paying anyone to get this product) … As a Dressmaker in Haute Couture.. you have my respect just for being dare to making it by hand. And i really mean when i say HAND MADE IT…!! 👍👍👍
    (Sorry for my english is not my lenguage)

  32. This video has more views than the second one, so apparently people really are more interested in sleeves and trimmings and finishings

  33. I just discovered your channel and as a fashion student who barely sews by hand (and when I do I mostly fail), this is impressive

  34. I love your attention to detail. The look of a culture, region and time can be very specific right down to the stitches, materials, colors and even accessories. I really love the fasteners and girdle. I've been looking for a girdle like that for a 15th century Ottoman ensemble but cannot find one that is just right.

  35. When you said you were going to use ink on silk I flipped. NEVER use ink on anything thin or delicate. I've learned from experience and now you have too.

  36. I love historical clothes! It’s so interesting and I personally like the clothing style better then now, though I don’t think I would like corsets all too much. I do like the comfortable style that people have going on today because it’s, you know, comfortable. TO THE POINT! It’s amazing, you’re amazing, keep doing what your doing and have fun with it of course!

  37. Although I don't make clothes I don't think the thinner sleeves would have been attached to the top of the sleeve, because even in the late 1700's sleeve like that were separate.
    (my credentials? I'm a f&i reenactor)

  38. i would be very interested in a video just about general hand-stitching. I keep having to but always feel like i'm doing it wrong as I know about one maybe two types and even if i learn more. i never know which type is appropriate for what. i'd love to learn!

  39. This is a fantastic tutorial. The historically-accurate focus on the construction is really eye opening. Please do many more videos!

  40. Wow she’s using like traditional methods of inking her cutouts. And she even DYED her white thread to match the colors instead of using modern threat that would have probably matched the color. I’m not like a subscriber or anything, but it kind of seems like she lives her life in that era too. That’s some serious dedication

  41. I don’t even sew but this is fascinating ! I should enroll in one class to see how I like it… anyway awesome job, love from France🥰

  42. Odds bodkins! You are a heathen! Just wing those hoses of fabric in anywhere, eh?
    Well, you must've been a sight walking through the park to the lake. A beautiful, other-worldly one. Nice touch with the rented ducks at the end.
    It would make a great subject for a "me de in china" sweatshop. Perhaps somewhere way, way inland where cowboy/girl "any-stitch goes" rules the process!

  43. Never thought to pin the narrow end to a cushion that's brilliant i always sat goofy and held the narrow end between my knees lol

  44. Wow! Idk how I came across this! Very impressive! I would of just used a ton of liquid stitch, aka glue! How sore were your fingers??

  45. I love old timey clothes so much. Id kill for a good couple of dresses in that style. Which really says a lot since i dont really wear dresses.

  46. At first i was like ( after seeing your roast video ): why didn’t see use a sewing machine? – After seeing all the fabrics and details i totally understand it …. and have so much respect for your hard work. You did a impressive job !

  47. It’s so beautiful! Thank you for working so hard on this dress, I got so many ideas for figure skating dresses from this video.
    Of course I’d have to embrace the use of spandex materials to facilitate movement, but the use of buttons and panelling is so pretty!

    Would you ever be interested in making a video about dance or figure skating dresses that reconcile the use of synthetic fibres with historically accurate looks (despite the short skirt…)

  48. How do you have the patience for finishing all those seams??? It takes me many times longer to fell seams than it does to make them in the first place!

  49. In the days before dry cleaning, how did they control the varying degrees of shrinkage when washing garments with different components (silk, wool and linen including the linen thread) ? Did they pre-shrink fabric?

  50. I know that you don't male dresses by commission but would it be possible to sell the patterns? I think this would be fun to try out but I've no experience with making patterns

  51. How s the 1500 th century still in the Middle Ages? From what I can recall from school that should be full Renaissance period..

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