I had never tried to make clothing for children before. I assumed sewing a medieval dress for my baby would be like making a dress for an adult.
Part way through sewing the pieces together, I discovered that I could not get the dress on her. Apparently, non-stretchy garments have to be quite a bit bigger than the baby they’re intended for.
After fiddling around with adding more panels to the dress, I finally ran out of time and gave up. Baby went to the faire in her mundane clothes.
Live and learn!
I’m working on my baby’s first medieval garb for an event tomorrow! She’ll certainly grow out of it before the next event we attend, but I figure I can save it for our next child. The great thing about t-dresses and t-tunics is they are exactly the same except for the length, so I can use it again even if we have a boy.
Next project: figure out which of my garb I can modify so I can nurse her without stripping down…
One great place to get fabric for costuming is thrift stores. As we liked to say in our college Medieval Club, “If it would make terrible curtains, it’ll make great garb.” And we sometimes literally turned terrible curtains into clothing. I’ve seen curtains, table cloths, and bed sheets become dresses, tunics, and cloaks.
This bliaut was once a table cloth and a bed skirt.
Of course, most of the fabric goods that turn up at thrift stores are cotton and polyester (which aren’t ideal Medieval European garb). But if you just want a Medieval fantasy look, these are great. Every once in a while you find a nice piece of wool, linen, or a bit of silk for more period garments.
It never hurts to take a look and see if you find something. For example, these two nice lengths of wool I found a few weeks ago.
They were about three dollars a yard all told. The gray twill is destined for a tunic for my husband. The plaid I don’t think I’ll even cut. It’s the perfect size and shape for a shawl, a viking cloak, or just a blanket.
My linen underdress is finished, and my wool overdress is all put together and hemmed!
Now for the part where I spend a few weeks on embellishments. I thought the hems, chain-stitched in white wool thread, took a long time, but I have evil plans to finish some of the long seams with Mammen cushion stitch. Here’s my practice scrap.
I tend to take a rather liberal view of what is historically accurate to a given place and time. For instance, I’m okay with using a stitch found on a tenth-century Viking pillow for my tenth-century Anglo-Saxon dress. As a crafty person, I’m prone to trying to recreate pretty things I see, so I figure Anglo-Saxon women wouldn’t have hesitated to try out stitches they saw their neighbors wearing. Unless they were busy running for their lives at the time. Silly Vikings.
See what I mean? Rather liberal.
In addition to these seam treatments, I’ll (hopefully) eventually add tablet-woven bands or silk onto the the cuffs, neckline, and possibly hem of my overdress.
Pretty. Pretty. Pretty…time-consuming! But at the end I’ll have my first “period” garb.