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Red Linen Side Laced Petticoat &

How to make a French Seam

The Kirtle is the combination of a corset & petticoat.  I learned this from the Tudor Tailor Ladies.  Early Tudor Gowns (Henrican Era) did not have a corset as a separate piece of clothing. 

The kirtle then made of linen or wool was the next piece of clothing after the chemise or smock.

I made a trip up to San Francisco yesterday, and had much fun taking the CalTrain up there.  It was a short walk to Britex Fabrics (everyone raves about this place, so I had to see)

100% linen

3 yards @ 61" wide

I think it will do.

They had some wonderful colors to choose from almost all of them were 100% linen Expensive still for me @ $20.00 per yard! Working with this linen vs the linen, my red is about the same weight, however the weave is much tighter and finer.  I can pull a knot through the cheaper linen and I cannot do that this this.
They did have some Irish Linen for $40.00/yd, that was way way too much for me. I had been warned, this place is not cheap.  They have Haute Courtlier fabrics "fit for a queen" at $595.00/yard.

Now I have to get my patterns in order.  Margo Anderson & Tudor Tailor.  First must wash the fabric.


I washed the fabric today.  Hot Water and a Hot Dryer to abuse it.  It faded a little it more brick red then bright red but it will do and no one will be looking at it anyway but me.  Ironed it and now it's ready, I just have to get my patterns together.


So I got out Margo Anderson Pattern and traced out the bodice.  Got out some white linen and will cut out the pieces today and made a muslin.  Better to cut out 4.00/yard material then 20.00/yard material and find out it doesn't work.  I think I'll add some trim at the bottom of the skirt for this kirtle.

red kirtle muslin red kirtle muslin

I used size 12 for the bust and size 18 for the waist but I think it's too big in the bust.  I may have used the wrong cut lines (there are so many).  I cut off the bodice point and looks like I should cut off a bit more.  I can pull in the seam allowances as well to tighten everything up.  This is a single layer and only pinned.

I have to decide how to lace this up.  The options for me are side or front.  I want to try and get a Tudor dress on by the back and back-side are out.  I just don't twist that way anymore.



The bodice is made up of a back piece, 2 side pieces and a front piece.  The straps are separate too (I may combine them with the back piece if I have enough fabric. 

That makes two back side seams, two underarm seams and I will cut down the front for front lacing. (ed note: front lacing changed to side lacing) My wrist is achy tonight, so I didn't do any sewing.  I am getting things together for October Crown as well.  I'll have to sew this muslin together.  The linen used is very fine, I think I goofed and used my hanky weight for the muslin.  All is not lost, I'll use it to flatline the red linen.  I need to trim up the waistline, I think it's a little too long.  Maybe not with seam allowance.


Even though the living room is all cleaned up, I'm going to cut out the bodice of the kirtle tonight.  I can't stand it, not doing some sewing.


Well, I kinda screwed up and it's what I get for trying to hurry something along.  Not a loss by any means but I've come to be used to my screw ups.  I meant to have this kirtle front opening....but I forgot and didn't cut the pieces out that way....So I will have a side lacing kirtle.  No biggie really.  I must be very careful in how I cut out the pieces for the skirt:

1. front panel which is flat and goes from side to side.

2. Large back panel from side to side but with enough fabric to have the skirt cartridge pleated. I may not have enough linen to do this, if not, I'll just box pleat the back panel in.

So the skirt will be two pieces with side openings to correspond to the lacing on the top.  Skirts will be attached to bodice.

3. Bodice will be lined and I'll do hand bound eyelets.  I'll need to put two pieces of boning in for the side laces (total of 4)  I will probably use my zip ties.  I already have them and they are very washable.

Just the cut out pieces right now, but it is taking shape nicely.



I just can't leave something unfinished, I was going to just drop this kirtle till I felt more inspired to finish it, but since I don't have a car, I'm sewing today.  Got the fine linen lining sewn to the bodice.  I've decided to make this a side lacing bodice and could not fine anything on the web for this.  I cut 4 pieces of my wrap ties and burned the ends to make them more rounded.  Placed them and currently will hand sew them into place.  Tried on the bodice and it may be a bit too big, I have a 1" gap if that..  I think the linen is just too elastic.  It's just a kirtle so no biggie if the edges meet.  I'll do hand bound eyelettes as well.  I've left the bottom open so I can sew the skirt onto the bodice.

Pieces back & front
fabric I have left

I also cut out two gores for the skirt.  They give fullness to the skirts yet allow the front to remain smooth.

The back is very full.




Sewing the skirts today.  I'm using French Seams on the gores rather than Flat Feld Seams.

French Seams = a seam that is encased within itself.  There is a small tube on the inside of the garment that you iron flat.

1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8
9 10 11
looking at what guards would look like.  
  1. This is the front, seams are pinned, sew seam using 1 cm guide
  2. After the first pass, this seam allowance is cut to half
  3. Fabric is folded over and pinned
  4. Sew 2nd pass using 1cm guide (revised smaller 5-26-08) Keep it as small as possible & still incase seam
  5. This is the inside (finished seam)
  6. This is the outside of the skirt (not yet ironed)
  7. What the tube looks like (on the wrong/in- side of the garment, single sided & top of gore)
  8. Adding the back.  Back panel is added to the side gore using French Seams (This is the front)
  9. Top of gore from the inside
  10. Top of gore from the outside
  11. What the french seam looks like from the side view

Flat Feld Seams = a flat encased seam, but there are two lines of stitching showing (just like jean seams)

It took me an age to figure out that me dense.

OK, so I have the skirt all sewn up.  I ran a gathering thread along the top so that the attachment along the bottom of the bodice will be smooth.

I looked to see what the kirtle will look like with guards.  One is a ribbon and then I put some velvet over that.  Looks like I'll be making some bias ribbon made out of silk velvet for the bottom guard.


I'm now ready to attach the skirt to the bodice.  First I finished the top of the skirt with a simple fold over narrow hem.

Next I attach the skirt to the bottom of the bodice and sew (twice) to the fashion fabric. It is important to make sure there are no gathers in the front (keep that nice and smooth).  Gather or box/knife pleat the back.  Iron the seam up ward and trim to 1/4 inch.  Then handsew the inning down to cover the seam on the inside.

My youngest daughter went back to university today.  I'm going to miss her again!  Only 3 weeks though and she is home again.


Worked on finishing the bodice.  Got the skirt attached and the eyelets done (all by hand).  I will use the corded petticoat with this kirtle.  You can see a big difference with and without photos.

hand-bound eyelettes partial lace attaching the back skirt back
red linen kirtle red linen kirtle
red linen kirtle red linen kirtle red linen kirtle  
without petticoat with petticoat    

So it's all together and looks nice inside and out.  Guards & Hem to do yet.


finished skirt circumference is 114"

I tried on the Kirtle with my Smock.  The fit is comfortable, I don't have any gap when I lace up it comes together, so I must be smaller than the dress form.  Why is there always something! 

OK, so Margo suggests that the back is too long.  So that's an easier fix.  I can make the adjustments at the skirt/bodice seam  I have to measure the amount needed to reduce by the amount of the wrinkle.  It's easy to pick out the lining seam at this point and make the fix, so you won't be able to tell it's been made.


"I love the kirtle on you! It is such a nice color, and looks
good on you. :-)

You are not alone with the back of the kirtle being too long. Mine
did that, and I need to fix mine, too (when I remake the bodice,

The only other suggestion I have is to snug up the one shoulder
strap just a bit, as it appears to be falling off a bit. I know I have one
shoulder that sits a bit lower than the other, so my straps always
have to be fitted and sometimes refitted."

From a Margo Anderson Group member, whom I respect immensely.  Makes me feel very good!

So now I have to fix that strap too.


I finished the hem tonight.  I've decided to wear my underware to June Crown.  Kirtle, White Linen Chemise & Farthingale.  I should remain cool in the heat. 


final circumference is 114"
kirtle-6-12 kirtle-11-12

I took the straps in a good 3" each and the kirtle fits OK after loosing more than 40lbs still kinda looks the same on me.   I could take it in more, but that would mean removing the skirts and adjusting the side lacing, which I'm not going to do.




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