Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cutting the Cotehardie

Since I did not do any indepth posts about how I constructed my fitted underdress, focusing instead on the fitting of it, I decided to document my progress as I work on this dress. That way, in case I ever forget how I put things together I can go back and read what I did. (and that happens way too often with me!)

So in this post I will describe how I cut out dresses like this. I cut my kirtle in the same way as I am cutting this one although the skirt gores were narrower, making for a narrower finished hem on the dress.

So, to start out with, I had my 5 yards of washed and dried linen. It ended up about 58" wide so I decided to use full widths of the fabric to avoid waste. Instead of planning my fabric around my pattern, I plan my pattern around my fabric! First, I measured from my shoulder tip to the floor plus a few inches for play. That was the length of my front and back dress pieces. I measured my bodice pattern pieces (the part of the dress that is fitted to my body) across the widest part. The widest part on the front piece was about 10" and on the back about 12", so I cut the 4 panels (2 front, 2 back) 13" wide and 53" long. See:

To shape the upper body portion of the panels, I laid on my pattern pieces and cut around them. From the hips up, the panels are shaped to fit the body closely. From the hips down, everything is squared. Easy.

I cut lining for the bodice from a purple linen dress I had on hand. I decided to use this linen instead of the pale green since it is heavier and will take the strain of wear better. I will use the green for the lining that will show (in the sleeve). The dress is lined only to the hips, since from the hips down there is no strain of wear and the pink linen is heavy enough to drape nicely on its own.

Here is the back seam pinned together, ready to be sewn:

To add flare to the skirt, gores are inserted at center front, center back and each side. I made my gores by measuring from my hip to the floor, plus a few inches. I tore a full width of my linen to that length, and then another one. I had two panels approximately 42" long x 58" wide. Here is one panel:

To cut the gores, I folded each panel in half and pressed it flat, matching torn edges and selvedges. I cut from corner to corner diagonally across the fabric. This gave me two gores - one whole gore and two half gores, which are sewn together to make a whole gore.

I repeated this for the other panel, ending up with two whole gores and four half gores. I rounded off the bottom edges to make things even.

Here are the front pieces laid out with two half gores. Since the dress will open down the center front the seam down the middle of this gore is ideal. You can see how much width the gores will add to the dress skirts - quite a lot!

Here are the front pieces and the center gore and both side gores laid out on the bed. I think the skirt will hang very prettily in the finished dress!

Next up: sewing it all together!



  1. Thanks for posting this portion of your process. It's very helpful to see how other people do their fabric cutting.

  2. Wow, this is amazing. You are so talented :) :) I really wish I could sew like you do...However, I'm happy to admire what you do from blogland :) :) Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather :)

  3. It already looks fantastic! I can't wait to see the finished product -- you make the loveliest things!

  4. How many gores are in the skirt?

  5. There are 4 gores in the skirt. One at center front, one at center back and one on each side. Hope this helps!

  6. How did you lay on the fabric and cut around yourself? I may be over thinking the process, but I'm imagining a game of twister and then wondering about allowing for the roundness of the body.... I love the breakdown of the how! I could actually do this dress I believe if I could get my brain past the cutting out part (rolling my eyes at myself!)

    1. She said she laid down her pattern pieces and cut around them

  7. Been there, had that problem. Consider where in your community could you have access to large tables? Laundromat when you're washing clothes, church or community ctr, library?


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!