The Red Cotehardie

There are lots of blog posts I could put up. Continuing the Tain readings with the Pangs of Ulster, the one about the Justice work here in America (you can read the beginnings of that over on Columbia Rising ), the one where I rant and rave about wanting to burn everything to the ground, the one where I start to talk about how I feel like things are in need of a change in my life. Lots and lots of things that could be talked about. However today is going to be something…frivolous. Why? Because I need to do to work soon and rather than continuing to indulge in my current mood of rage and ruin I think it might be more productive to just pause and distract for a moment.

Recently I have been endeavoring to make more time to well, make more things! I really enjoy the process of crafting, sewing, making and realize that it just makes me calmer and feel a sense of accomplishment. So I need to do it more. Last month I managed to get around to making and finishing(!!) a dress that had been in my mind for over a year now. Several years ago using the information on La Cotte Simple and the help of my dear friend Temple Witch, I managed to make a lovely black long sleeved many buttoned Cotehardie. Which I adore (even if I have to reset the sleeves because they are too small now). And I have since wanted to make a sleeveless red one for more casual ritual attire. I have long since had the fabric, but never got around to the making until lately. Back in Feb. we got together with some friends to do the pattern making with a healthy dose of alcohol to the mix. Then in late July I finally got to cutting and making.

One thing that I need to note and remember, is that sewing goes a lot smoother if I parcel out the tasks. Assigning one day for cutting, then another for sewing etc. My previous method of trying to just plow through it all in one go just does not work as well and is daunting. I think it keeps me from sewing more. With this project and in future I will try to think of things in smaller stages, see if that helps, it certainly did here.


Things were going smoothly. I use a corset style of lining for the dress bodice that makes things very clean and neat, so the dress itself sewed up very quickly. Then came those darn eyelets.

Now I have a machine that can make eyelets. However experience has told me that they just are not that sturdy. You have to puncture/cut the fabric and that just inherently weakens the fabric structure. With a dress like this where all the chest support is dependent on the tightness of that closure that just doesn’t seem wise.  As this is not really a dress meant to be historically accurate grommets are an option. But again, I do not have the equipment for the nice smooth lovely grommets, and the ones I can do are…well they just aren’t as nice. Sometimes there are rough edges and with a dress that is meant to be close to the skin not ideal. Which leaves, hand sewn eyelets.

Now overall they aren’t hard to make. Not really. They are however tedious. I have used the instructions from the Curious Frau for my eyelets over the years.




36 eyelets total. 18 on each side. Took me two and a half days of working on them for a few hours at a time. But at long last the end was in sight!

Now the thing about cotehardies…is once you have fitted the pattern, you really cannot check the fit again until you have the dress pretty much made up. Meaning I could not check the fit again until now, after 36 eyelets and all that work. I think you can tell where this is going. The fit my dear friends did not fit.

I have no bloody clue what the hell happened either. I mean the pattern fit, it was literally sewn onto my body. And yet someone from there to the cutting out of the actual dress fabric it seemed to have gained at least 4 inches. Which is a lot for this dress. A LOT. It was a sack on me and did not fit right at all. I was furious. I was damn well not going to rip out all those eyelets and I didn’t have enough fashion fabric to start again (nor did I want to). My only option was taking in the sides and ruining all the lovely clean inside lining.


So I did what any resourceful witch would do and turned the dress inside out and re-fitted it to me. I pinched in as much as I could, marked it. Took the dress off and then guessed at the curve. Basted it and putt it back on to check the fit again. As you can see above. That is a freaking lot to take in on this thing. The other side was very similar. Frustrating and mysterious.


Fits much better now. Then came the day of hemming.  For those that know me, they know that I will do pretty much anything to avoid the tedious doldrums of hemming. Yet I wanted this dress to be nice and not trip over it. So I puts on the Return of the King and went at it!

20140818_095905Have to say that overall I am pleased with it. It is very comfortable and I think it looks nice. Someday I’ll get a full length picture of it lol. For now will just have to make do with portrait shots. One thing that I do need to do after wearing it for a day is take in about an inch on the shoulders. I have notoriously small shoulders. I always have to take them in. Clothes off the rack are just an experiment in how I should have line backer shoulders apparently. It should be an easy fix and help with the slow dangerous drift downwards that the neckline takes when wearing it.  Overall I’m very much pleased. Don’t know what the next project will be, the Black Magic Dress or the Emperor’s Jacket or possibly the elusive Queen’s Great Coat. We’ll see. 20140818_093623


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