Category Archives: Medieval

1480s Italian Giornea Overdress

drawing giornea

Jacquelyne Aubuchon 2014 after Domenico Ghirlandaio




























When it comes to Renaissance costuming, one piece that almost immediately comes to mind is the Giornea.  This dress was the top most layer worn over a house dress and a chemise.  It is often sold at fairs and festivals as a starter piece for the women’s wardrobe.  The first medievalish costume I ever bought was one of these dresses.

An excellent artist to look at when considering your overdress is Dominic Giorlandio. 

This is a simple tabbard like garment.  Open at the sides, it is worn belted or loose.

Click here for pattern. Women’s Giornea Size 6-18.



Dressing Renaissance Florence:  Families, Fortunes, and Fine Clothing. Carole Collier Frick, The Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science, 2002.

Dress of the Venetians.  Stella Mary Newton.  Scholar Press, 1988.

Late 15th Century Italian Women’s Gamurra

Festive Attyre: Florentine Dress: 1475-1500

Sophie Stitches; 15th Century; Italian Gamurra & Girnea




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

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.

Women’s Medieval Style Tunic


We have a men’s style available, so here is the women’s version.  The main difference is the length of the dress and the sleeves.

womens medieval tunic

Medieval Style Tunic


Time for something on my bucket list…  a good starter SCA Pattern.  The SCA is a group of medieval enthusiast that have chapters all over the world.   Unlike Rendezvous or some other games, you have to be dressed in costume to go to an event held by the SCA.  When a new person comes they are often overwhelmed with what to make.  This is for all my friends who help people get into garb or for all those who would just like something medieval.

There are many shirts that have been unearthed over the years.  The “tunic” (which is just the French word for shirt) is a style worn throughout hundreds of years.  This particular pattern is a simplified version of one found in the Kraglund Bog in Denmark.  It’s carbon dated to c. 1040-1155.  For more information, Marc Carlson’s site Some Clothing of the Middle Ages is fantastic.   I’ve made literally hundreds of tunics so the technical writing on this may not be the level you are looking for.  I am always glad to answer any questions and even skype if we can find a mutual time to help you through the pattern.  Please refer to the diagram on the pattern as an assembly guide.

If you would like a nicer fitting tunic made out of linen, I sell those as well.  I base my pattern off the Herjolfsnes 33 and 34.  This is a super comfortable style with very good ease of movement.  I offer these tunics without decoration for $100+shipping and handling.  Pictures can be found on the Maggie Bruce facebook page listed below.

If you like this concept, please visit often and hit the like button on my posts.

And here is today’s offering:

Medieval Style Tunic

Thanks for taking the time to visit!

Medieval Tunic

Men's Tunic of a slightly different style