the “stash cotehardie” + bonus ball gown

hello again! here’s a nice long post. I’ve been working very hard the past few weeks. mostly on this ballgown that I made for a friend of mine, which was a little bit of a nightmare.


I just have the one picture but I wish I’d taken some good ones. this dress was gorgeous. it’s made of champagne-colored satin with the over layer of a gorgeous gold-red changeable crinkle chiffon, of which the picture does not do justice. the pleating on this gown gave me such fits. but it was worth the two weeks I spent on it because in the end, it looked fabulous.

what I’ve been working on this weekend is my “Cassandra cotehardie” (a.k.a. the “stash cotehardie”, a.k.a. the “it’d be nice if I knew what I was doing!” costume.) I went through my fabric closet and was amazed at what I didn’t even know I had in there. among other things, I found these three piles of gorgeous silk velvet that I had bought at an estate sale about two years ago. there was a dove gray, ruby red, and a really nice moss green that just had me drooling. unfortunately, there were only about two yards a piece, which is hardly enough to make anything decent.

I’ve been wanting to make some more medieval-age costumes for a while, but to be honest it’s not really my area of expertise (although I’ve done enough research these past few days to make up for that!) so I decided I could whip out a two-toned cotehardie, using some of my velvet and some nice black linen that I had about five yards of. I actually based the design on a sketch of a character from one of my own novels… is it weird to want to cosplay as your own character? but the design and color scheme was just what I wanted, so I went with it.


the first image is my original design for the outfit, and the second is the revised design taking into account the pieced-together idea. unfortunately, however, once I got started, I realized very quickly that there just wasn’t enough of the red velvet to scrape this one by. so I went with the gray as a second choice. it’s a lovely fabric, but it just doesn’t have that same flair as the red… sigh.

my first piece of business was to start drafting a pattern. like I said, I hadn’t done any costumes this medieval before, so I began with research. then, with some draping on my dressform (which is actually rather my size now that I’m less busty,) I came up with a two-piece pattern with a seam down the back and down the front. the plan was to have the gown simply lace up the front.


this is my mock-up. (yes, I actually exist! for a costuming blog there sure aren’t many pictures of me wearing costumes :/) it’s made of a green linen tablecloth and runner, which was surprisingly plenty enough fabric. it has four gores in the skirt. I literally sewed myself into it to check the fit, and it was pretty spot on. I made this just to test the pattern and see how much work I was getting myself into, but I was planning to use it to line the real gown if it worked out. so that’s where I went with it.


cutting out the gray velvet. because I was planning on piecing the bottom on separately, I only cut the pieces to about knee-length. I cut the gores the same, and then added panels of the black linen to the bottom. if I did it again, I’d probably do it differently – instead of adding a panel to each gore and skirt piece, I’d sew the gores in and then add one long panel to the bottom of the skirt. but it turned out okay anyway.


a gore with the linen panel. the linen turned out to be pretty thin once I had it up next to the velvet, and just didn’t hang as well. so I doubled up on the panels to give it some weight, which also conveniently enclosed all the exposed edges of the fabric, which were quickly fraying away to nothing. velvet. sheesh.


I pinned the dress at the waist just to check the fit and the drape of the skirt. in the second two pictures, you can see how the black panels don’t quite line up in some areas. I guessed that would happen, and even before I began stitching the pieces together I’d decided that I was going to cover up where the fabric joined with some kind of gold trim or something. it should be the same I’m going to use on the sleeves, and possibly with a band at the hem of the gown as well.


drafting sleeves.


pinning. I sewed both pieces together at the neckline and down the front. and man, flipping that whole thing inside out was definitely a workout. and that’s as far as I’ve gotten! I’m thinking about working on some eyelets tonight. actually being able to lace the thing up will do a lot for the pictures, I’m thinking. :p


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