Early 15th Century Fitted Dress

In early 2019, I finally finished my first-ever 15th-century fitted and self-supporting dress. Described in reenactment circles as a “Gothic fitted dress” or GFD, mine was inspired by a fieldhand in June page from the Très Riches Heures of Jean, Duc de Berry:


Making the bodice pattern took two different fitting sessions with two different people, but once that was done, the initial fit went really well!

Checking bodice fit

I only used one layer of linen, as I wanted a lightweight summer dress.

I drafted the sleeve pattern on my own, with a lot of pinning, basting, and testing. Even though I knew I wanted to do short sleeves like the manuscript example, I drafted a full sleeve for future garments.

Checking sleeve fit


Making eyelets bigger
Eyelets reinforced with twill tape

While all the construction seams were machine sewn, everything was handfinished, and I flatfelled every single seam by hand. This meant a lot of eyelets!

When I began sewing, I used thread from the selvedge to sew with. However, halfway through I was given a cone of linen thread that matched the linen perfect, so all the eyelets and most of the seam finishes were sewn with that.

All that was left was to wear it!

Silly waterbearing tricks at Pennsic 2019. Photo courtesy of Andrea Nichols