Monthly Archives: January 2012

Women’s Kirtle’s and Cotehardies


I finished the details on a pattern for plus size cotehardies.  Sizes in this range are a little tricky and I think making this out of old sheets first would be wise.  People gain in vastly different ways and you want to be comfortable in this garment.    So here is the plus size women’s pattern:

cotehardies in plus sizes

Roman de la Rose

Detail from Roman de la Rose

I don’t like to duplicate work, so I’m also including a paper I wrote years ago called Women’s Kirtles and Cotehardies.   It was written to teach a one hour class.  It’s one of my favorite things to teach.  So, if you have any problems or questions regarding cotehardies for women, let me know.  I can go on about them all day.

Women’s Kirtles and Cotehardies


Cotehardies in Multiple Sizes


I know this is a repeat, but I spent days trying to learn a computer program that was supposed to make pattern making easier and have gone full circle back to inkscape.  I haven’t given up on the program yet, I have a couple weeks left in the free trial, but so far it feels harder.  Hopefully it will become easier and it can help me get these patterns out faster.  I can grade this in inkscape pretty easy, so I will have 6 and 8 up soon.  I may put up 18, but I’m concerned about grading that far out from size 10.  We will see.

So enough sewing geek talk.

Here’s the new file:

cotehardie back pattern

  cotehardie front pattern

Update:  I did get the 6 – 8 – 10 done more quickly than I expected:

Cotehardie Back Pattern Small Sizes

Cotehardie Front Pattern Small Sizes

I Squidn’t Think I’d Get to Squid Girl


So for my whole adult life, I’ve been pretty obsessed with anime.  Fortunately, I’ve had enough distractions to not let it overtake my life, but wouldn’t that be lovely?

I’m tooling around on the internet today and found a hat pattern made out of polar fleece.  I LOVE polar fleece.  It gives a really cartoony look and is easy to work with.  It’s one of my favorite things to make costumes out of that are based on cartoons.  This is a seriously awesome hat.  It reminded me that I’ve been wanting to do the Squid Girl dress pattern so in the awesomeness that is that Instructable, I decided to move it up the schedule a couple of months and get it out there.  I really need one of these hats, but I have too much to do right now.  Very sad.  So check that out, make one and send me pics so I can live vicariously through you!

Anyway….  Squid Girl……..

Squid Girl is a determined, naive squid with ADD who has come from the depths to conquer humanity so we will stop polluting the ocean.  Underestimating the land dwelling population, she ends up working at a restaurant on the beach in order to start her invasion.  Funny, light hearted, and very entertaining, this show is slightly different than some of the more standard story lines out there.  It’s refreshing and relaxing to watch.  What a cute costume for a little girl though!  Go out to Crunchyroll and watch this show.  Crunchyroll has a free viewing option and is the least annoying site out there with free anime.  I’m a member, be a member.  It’s a pretty great site.

I’ve been debating in my head for a while some ideas for using polar fleece or yarn to make the hat, but the dress is simple.  The instructable gives me an idea though and I believe it could easily be adapted to make a wig for this costume.  Very easily.

Bigger flaps, two colors, more “hair” or tentacles.  It would be fabulous! (Don’t pull it over your eyes, for example).  If you look at the notes on this site, you can see some other people’s interpretation.  Gives me lots of ideas.

So, for the pattern:

Girl’s Squid Girl Pattern (also known as sleeveless dress)

This is in girl’s sizes 7, 8, 10, 12, 14.   So some differences on this pattern.  It’s really easy and pretty intuitive.  I haven’t patterned facings for the neck or arms.  I haven’t written detailed instructions.  If you need them,  contact me.  I would edge the openings in bias tape in blue and use the same blue to stitch on the hem for the decorations.

Good luck and Happy sewing!

Medieval Cotehardie


I had grand plans to offer this all graded out in different sizes this week, but that is just not going to happen.  I’m too busy to grade it by hand and I haven’t learned enough to grade it in the pattern maker software I am testing out.  I do have to make some grocery money this week and I have a huge pile of alterations to get done.

I am a costumer in the SCA which is a medieval enthusiasts group.  One of my pet peeves is when people tell me the Gothic fitted dress would not have been done with princess seams.  It’s not as commonly depicted in medieval artwork and extant finds that I am aware of do not possess this construction technique, but it is seen.  Never say never.  The first one everyone sees is the Fouquet Madonna picture.

ca. 1450 AD

Additional sources:

Victoria and Albert Museum
T. 202-1957
The Devonshire Hunting Tapestries
George Wingfield Digby, assisted by Wendy Hefford
H.M.S.O., London, 1971 ISBN# 0-11-290037-2
Plate II (Roman Numeral 2)

Hours of Adelaide de Savoie
Jean Fouquet
about 1455
Musee Conde, Chantilly, France
Ms. 1362 fol. 21 – The Sibyls and the Virgin
Jean Fouquet
Klaus G. Perls
Editions Hyperion, Paris, 1940
Page 84, Plate 47

Le Boccace de Munich
Jean Fouquet
about 1459
Staatsbibliothek, Munich, Germany
Cod. Gall. 6 fol. 210v – ³Case² of Three Queens Called Cleopatra
Jean Fouquet
Klaus G. Perls
Editions Hyperion, Paris, 1940
Page 159, Plate 159

I like the two in the Falconry tapestry best.  One is “the miller’s wife” in the center, she is spinning, and the other is a barefoot shepherdess.  I have made tons and tons of cotehardies over the years.  My class handout on how to make them can be found on another website here.   Last year I did some commission cotehardies based off a dress that the women already had that they liked.  I don’t do cotehardies on commission any more due to the difficult nature of the fashion.  This garment is designed to make you look hippy and with a belly.  Modern women have a hard time with this.  It’s just not the aesthetic of our current society.  I love the look of this when it is more medieval sadly.  This garment was an early form of corset and is self supporting.  Sometimes when people come to reinactment, they are hesitant to take off the bra and don’t believe this style would be comfortable without one.  That is where this dress pattern comes in.  This gives the right look, is plausibly period, and works better with our modern eye for fashion.  Additionally, it looks better if you wear it over a bra than the other way of cutting it.    They were also insecure about people telling them it wasn’t “period”.  It is, see above documentation.  It’s more important to feel pretty so you can have fun than meet some sort of strange uptight standard anyway.

Today this pattern is in a size 10, the measurements on it would be 36-27.5-37.5 inches.  I sincerely hope to have it graded and up in the next month or two. I have decided to split them due to some trouble I’ve had at Office Max.  Their printers just don’t want to print pages longer than 48″, I’m not sure what to do with that and they can’t seem to tell me how to fix it.  These are each 36 x 60″, but that is as small as I can make a full size print sheet for this particular dress.

cotehardie back

cotehardie front

She's just as pretty on the inside!


Yes, we did it in hot pink! and this is one of my favorite people to dress.

Children’s Gi


Here is the small children’s version of the Gi pattern.  My sons had a great time in these this Halloween using them as costumes.

Pantsless Jedi

3 year old paduwan without pants!

As you can see there are additional layers over and under this gi top.  For this costume I made a little dickie that looked like another layer underneath the gi top.  Since then I have learned that you can use a rectangular piece of fabric to the same effect.

This website about Kosodes is very detailed and informative.  I learned a great deal about some geometric construction in Japanese clothing here.

Here are the Children’s patterns:

children’s gi

children’s gi pants

I wish I were closer to my Tae Kwon Do Master and could continue to train.  I really miss it.  Good luck and as always, if you need help, please contact me at

Me at a martial arts tournament long ago

Kids Gi Pants


A martial arts uniform is not complete without the pants.  This is the pattern for boys and girls gi pants sizes.  I made these with tan fabric for the boys to go with the white tops on their Jedi uniforms.  So you may ask yourself, “Gi’s are easy to come by and cheap, why make one?”  Well, they are that is true, but you can’t necessarily get them in the color you want.  Also they tend to be hard to get in toddler sizes, but never fear, those are on the way.

Gratuitous picture of my son wearing pants.

This is my younger son playing Jedi on a spring horse.  He’s kind of awesomely enthusiastic about things.  When the full outfit was on, there were spats that covered their shoes and pants that stopped short of the knees.  This little one is in the toddler sizes.  It might take me a little bit to get those translated into a pdf file.  Hopefully soon!

Please enjoy this free martial arts gi pattern.  I enjoy your feedback, please let me know if you have any questions or comments!

Gi Pattern for Kids


This weeks free pattern offering is a Gi pattern for boys and girls.  This past Halloween both of my kids wanted to be Jedi.  If they want it, it must become so.  I’m a terrible sucker for making them costumes.

Jedi Costume

My seven year old paduwan!

One of the fundamentals of this costume is basically a Karate Gi.   Having spent years of my life wearing one, I decided this would be a very easy pattern to accomplish.  Today’s free pattern is a boys and girls GI sizes 7, 8, 10, 12, and 14.  Pants, and toddler sizes are on the way.

This does not include the “armor” pieces or the cloak.   I will include those later on and do a tutorial on how to put this costume together.  Both my kids were completely in love with it.  They wanted to sleep with them and wear them on errands.

Let me know if you have any questions!


Anime Basics Patterns Preview


Here is a preview of the patterns under immediate development at this time.  The schedule has one pattern a week under development for the year.  There are over two dozen designs coming out with Steampunk having about half of the upcoming development.  The Steampunk patterns are more complex, please have patience while those are on the drawing board and stay tuned.

Today some of the patterns should be ready for pick up at Office Max.  They have a new upload site where you can send the files and apparently the bugs have not been worked out of it yet.  Fortunately for them, their in store personnel is fantastic and provides great customer service.  I will be using the patterns to do the mock ups for some of the upcoming anime designs and one of the goth designs.  When I get the kinks worked out of the patterns, they will be available on cd.  I’m just starting up, later this spring, I will put this business on Kickstarter to hopefully raise the funds to sell these patterns on paper.

The first pattern I’m working on for mock ups is the basic sailor uniform seen in numerous series.

Women's Sailors Suit

Preview of Women's Sailor Suit outfit

The final pattern cover may change slightly from this, I haven’t decided whether to puff the sleeves or if it will be a shirt to tuck in.   I’m not nearly as obsessed with Sailor Moon as I used to be.  (But did you know the manga is  about to be re-released with a more accurate translation? Also being released alongside a new edition of Sailor Venus?) I like the untucked look from that show, but few people have the midriff that merits showing off.  It might be the number of pictures taken where the photographer hasn’t waited for a good pose on the person wearing the outfit.  Supplies on hand dictate that the mockup will have a light blue plaid skirt with a dark blue collar.

When that is perfected, the next one on the list is the anime pin up.

Anime Pin Up

Anime Pin Up for Women

This one is very exciting.  A backless sailor halter with a full circle skirt gives a skimpy option for ladies wanting to look sexy.  The other provides the v-shaped waist line found in some series like Sailor Moon after they transform and some other fun options with the peek a boo shoulders and wide cuffs at the wrist.  These two patterns combined should give costumers the starting off point to mix and match pieces to create the Japanese school girl look that they are going for.

Also coming is this one for the tough women out there that want to look hot and be bad:

Ladies Thug

Muscle and short shorts

I’ve been reading too much Tu-LOVE-Ru.  I’m all about tails recently since the main character is pretty cute in that Manga.  Lala is a really awesome character, and all the girls are really cute.  (Of course that has nothing to do with this pattern, but I’m a pretty hard core geek.)  I think the design on the right would work really well with the sleeves from the anime pinup design.  I’m not sure where the fit dress shirt and shorts idea was inspired from or the main idea for the design on the left, but I really like them.  All of these are drawn in with knee socks and you will see that as a them in my designs.  Ravelry has many patterns for knee socks available if you enough of a masochist to knit them.  Otherwise, I highly recommend Sock Dreams for you knee sock needs.  I have tons of their socks and they are awesome and hold up well.

Lastly, I need an outfit for an upcoming con so I skipped ahead to a goth pattern to mock up for myself.

bustle skirt

Bustle Skirt and Corset

I love this bustle skirt.  I think it’s terribly awesome and cute.  Why is this under goth?  I really don’t have a better classification for it.  There are so many fantasy/sci-fi comics out there that have a dark and gothic theme to them.  I’ve created the goth category for those things that can be used across a pretty broad selection of other categories and have a gothic flare.  I have patterned the long sleeve shrug, but I’m not sure if I wouldn’t prefer to knit it.  There are quite a few patterns out there that could be altered to create this look, but I will be going for some fabric first.  10 years ago I made a goth wedding gown.  The bride wanted to be the image of a crow with Victorian influences.  This dress is very similar to the dress I designed for her without all the feathers.  She wore black wings with the corset and skirt and looked amazing.

This weekend I will be running Maggie Bruce Medieval and Fantasy Tailor (my costume sales) at the Calontir Crown Tournament in St Louis, MO.  I should have credit  card sales access up and going by then, I just signed up for Square.  I know my credit cards have been down for a while, but now they are back.


Body Shapers


Body Shapers are the best kept secret of Hollywood. Diets can make you crazy and generally don’t work. Stay healthy, be fit, but don’t kill yourself trying to be perfect. We are inundated every day with images of people who have personal trainers, live on lettuce, and can afford cosmetic surgery to get rid of flaws. Emotionally healthy people have other tools at their disposal to create the look they want to create. For hundreds of years, women and men have worn body shapers of different styles. When weight was gained, the weight would distribute according to the styles of the day and the restrictions they placed on the body. This can be seen now a days with the low rise jeans women wear. As they gain weight the weight distributes in the area of least resistance and they get “muffin top”. Fortunately, technology has advanced as well and we don’t have to apply daily shaping to get closer to what we want to do.

If you want a better looking costume, you can use this new generation of shapers to create a better image of what you want. One of the first keys of undergarments is creating a smooth surface that doesn’t detract from your clothing. A simple bra or panties can ruin an entire look. If you have on the wrong size bra you can create unflattering lines on your back, awkward cup action in the front and even spill over. The cup shape can drastically change the look of the outer garment. (We will address bra shapes in a future post however.) Panty lines can totally ruin a pair of pants. Shapers can address these problems however. A lightweight shorts type shaper can eradicate panty lines in an instant (but so can a thong). Shapers that cover the torso can control bra strap lines. If you have muffin top they make shapers that can cover and control the torso and smooth it towards the bottom. If you have no bottom, they make shapers with enhancements built in. The options are almost limitless.

It might seem like a radical step in your costuming, but a good body shaper is a worthwhile investment and will take you to the next level.

Here are some simple methods for purchasing the correct body shaper.

1. Have someone take pictures of you from a few different directions.

  1. Look at the costume you are recreating, analyze how your body differs. Do you need lift, a little more padding, a little more shaping like more waist?
  2. When you determine what you want to do decide which area of the body this is in. Different shaping garments are made for different distinct areas of the body. By determining which area of the body, you can narrow down your search dramatically.
  3. How much of a difference do you want to make. Do you want to smooth, take off inches, or add inches? If you want to take inches off your waist, you need a piece with firm control. If you only need to smooth your waist, you will need light control.
  4. Look for shapers that will not loose their shape over time. Better quality fabrics make for a better investment and longer wear.
  5. Avoid shapers with visible seams. Visible seams can show through clothing, especially many of the lightweight fabrics chosen for cosplay.
  6. Avoid shapers that are too tight. Firm control and tight are too different things. Discomfort, breathing difficulties and decreased circulation can hinder your ability to have fun and become the character of your costume.

So take some time, google “body shaper styles” and click on images, you will get a huge selection. Take your full figure and make it into something that will drive other women green with envy. You can do things with this technology that can’t be done with exercise and diet. Make your costume the best it can be and Good Luck!

Pajama Pants


I receive a lot of requests for drawstring or elastic waistband pants.  These are very functional and look fine under the Medieval Style Tunic posted a few days ago.  I’ve used this pattern for many different costumes, most recently Jedi outfits for my kids.  Today our free pattern offering is for generic Pants pattern.  The instructions are for pants with an elastic waistband, but putting a drawstring in is just as easy.

The only real change for women would be in the length.  This should help all those people out there tracing pants and being frustrated with fit.

If you would like a custom version of this made, I charge $25.  You can contact me at with your request.  I will let you know what measurements I need.  I can send the file in pdf or on paper.

Picture of pants sold at Nordstrom