As the next step on my journey to reconstruct the outfit of the “Deer Court Lady,” I focused on the kirtle. This underdress, sometimes simply called “kittel” in German, is mostly invisible in the final ensemble but, like the previously sewn “bra-dress,” plays a crucial role in the authenticity of the outfit.

The journey began with solving the challenge in the chest area by deviating from my usual technique of setting darts, as using them would violate historical accuracy. Instead, I utilized a pattern from the book *’The Medieval Tailor’s Assistant’ and created a customized simulation based on my body. This indicated folds and an ill fit in the chest area, which I wanted to examine on a real trial cut. The mock-up surprised me with significantly better results; I only needed to remove some material in the chest area and widen the sleeves.

Woman testing the fit of a mock-up garment in front of a mirror, ensuring accuracy and comfort before finalizing the design.

Unlike my usual routine, I started by transferring the pattern to the wool fabric with tailor’s chalk, aiming for precision due to the body-hugging nature of the garment. It was here that I learned an important lesson because I worked imprecisely in one area, not testing the length of the skirt in the mock-up but extending the finished pattern when cutting the fabric. Now the skirt is a bit too short, but I’ve learned from this for the future.

Sewing the long seams was straightforward; the real challenge arose with the sleeves. They seemed too large, forming wrinkles that prevented a proper fit into the armholes. After a while of pondering, I recalled that I had extended the seam allowance by half a centimeter during cutting. Once I trimmed it back, the sleeve fit into the armhole, which honestly surprised me.

I also found it easier to sew these sleeves from the outside. This adjustment, along with a slight pull against the presser foot, cinched the excess width to the perfect measure.

After completing the simple machine stitches, several days of pure handwork followed. First, I secured all seam allowances with a felling stitch, sewed about 40 eyelets for the front lacing, and finally created some fabric buttons and their buttonholes. This process required patience and attention to detail because I wanted it to look good.

Close-up of sewing eyelets for lacing, a meticulous process adding functionality and authenticity to the garment's design.
Attaching buttons to the sleeves, a final touch adding both functionality and decorative flair to the garment.
Hand-sewing buttonholes, showcasing meticulous craftsmanship and attention to detail in the garment-making process.

The making of fabric buttons, a status symbol of the Middle Ages, presented its own challenges: patience is key. I quickly learned why these small buttons are a status symbol; they demand an incredible amount of time in production, especially the buttonholes. (Perhaps because I had previously avoided sewing them by hand.)

With the completion of this project, I have finished my heaviest garment so far. However, I can vouch for its warmth, though the neckline will require a veil in the future to protect against wind and weather. Another project that will follow on this journey.


  • 4 m light blue wool
  • 4 m light blue cotton-linen blend
  • cotton and polyester sewing thread
  • Wool yarn for the cord

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