Project: Middle Ages History & Fashion

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Blog, She Wrote: Project- Middle Ages History & Fashion

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This year our 8th grader, Rebecca, has been working through history with an emphasis on fashion. She researches the history of fashion during that time period and then designs her own garments. During her study of the Middle Ages, Rebecca worked on two separate fashions- one from the early Middle Ages and another from later in the same period.

Blog, She Wrote: Project- Middle Ages History & Fashion

Research on Middle Ages History & Fashion

I’ve had fun looking for resources on the fashion of different time periods of history. Rebecca loves to explore and construct the most authentic garments.

Blog, She Wrote: Project- Middle Ages History & Fashion

The Pattern Drafting Process

How does she go about making a dress from an idea?

  • Using her research, Rebecca comes up with an overall vision for a garment.
  • She sketches the dress starting with the basic shape and adding details.
  • As she chooses her design, she considers construction techniques and does more research and/or watches tutorials
  • Then it’s time to measure the doll and begin drawing the patterns.

Need help on learning to draft patterns? I shared our resources in Rebecca’s Steampunk Project post.

Blog, She Wrote: Project- Middle Ages History & Fashion

Constructing the Garment

I admire her bravery! Her skills are confident and she’ll try something new with no hesitation.

  • Use authentic fabric if possible– though I have to say she did not enjoy working with the wool.
  • Use a serger– If you have a serger, you can use it to finish the seams before putting the pieces together. If not, then be sure to finish the seams carefully.
  • Frequently read tutorials– Rebecca spends a lot of time learning by reading sewing blogger tutorials. It’s free and it’s a great way to learn on your own! Her Kindle Fire is usually by her side when she is working on something so she can refer back to the tutorial easily.

Blog, She Wrote: Project- Middle Ages History & Fashion

Facts on Middle Ages Fashion

Rebecca uncovered some interesting details in her research of Middle Ages Fashion. Here are a few:

  • During the 13th century tunics were the base of all outfits.
  • Cloaks were a staple of the Middle Ages and worn over the tunic.
  • Children wore the same basic style in smaller sizes.
  • The longer your garments and cloaks, the more money you had. Peasants wore short length garments.
  • During the 14th century waist lines rose and women’s clothing became more fitted – some sleeves were so tight they had to be stitched together once on!
  • The 15th century showed the empire waist being popular.
  • Men’s garment length was shortening while lady’s lengths were increasing.

Rebecca chose to make a gown in keeping with 15th century fashion. The collar is made of “fur” and forms a V that goes to the waist and it has a thick belt which was popular at the time.

Blog, She Wrote: Project- Middle Ages History & Fashion

Reading List for the Middle Ages

Along with her research in fashion, she spent time immersed in both fiction and non-fiction titles about the same time period. A brief list of the titles she’s read include:

Some of these titles chronicle the end of the Roman Empire and the Dark Ages that followed.

Studying fashion and learning how these garments were made and put together is a great way to focus on one aspect of history. Rebecca has had a very focused year and it’s been great for building her sewing project portfolio. She’s learned a lot of techniques which are useful for full sized fashions.

I’m looking forward to sharing two of her latest projects with you soon. She has a fashion due this week for a local contest. Rebecca is hoping to do well enough to make it into the fashion show. Stay tuned!

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  1. I love these! Please tell Rebecca she did a fabulous job. She and C ought to get together and create. C has just completed a middle age peasant and Knight’s lady dolly costume. We used the pattern book you recommended from your last doll’s costume post, but we really struggled with the bodice of the dress. I loved seeing your daughters well drawn plans as well. I intend to show them to C to encourage her to do the same – she is so enthusiastic to get sewing that I practically have to sit on her to get any kind of written plans from her! (well, obviously not literally, but it is a bit like getting blood out of a stone!)

    1. Thanks for the feedback Claire! Rebecca has improved with age quite a bit. When she was younger she wasn’t as interested in details. Now, she loves the detail and learns a lot from working with the pieces. Please share your work when it’s finished!

  2. I was about to see if you’d seen Claire’s posts from Angellic Scalliwags on the same topic, but now I see she’s the first commenter.

    Now I’m itching to get sewing, like I can feel my fingers twitching to head off and get going. Excuse me while I head off to my machine.

  3. Interesting project. She is very talented. Of course, I am a biased grandmother.

  4. Wow! Your daughter is really talented! Even though I own around 100 costumes, there are only a few that I tried to make, and they turned out okay but not great. I got all the other costumes from yard sales and resale shops.

    I bet my daughter would love to study fashion through the ages. My favorite time period is the Middle Ages!

    1. Thank you Susan! Have you seen her steampunk costume? That one is my favorite so far. Right now she is working on an ecofashion for a contest- this one is her size and after that she will be making her Civil War Ball gown for the annual ball. This has been the best study.

    1. You are welcome Marci. My daughter has been working on an entry for a local fashion contest. I can’t wait to share the process. It’s been fantastic for her. She turns the dress in tomorrow and we find out how she did on Monday.

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