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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.
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.
- Medieval Costume in England and France: The 13th, 14th, 15th Centuries– She read this one cover to cover and found great diagrams and pattern piece drawings for costuming.
- What People Wore When: A Complete History of Costume from Ancient Times to the Nineteenth Century for Every Level of Society– A lovely visual resource on costume throughout history
- Medieval Fashions Coloring Book– by Dover, an easy reference for costume design and great for using as a sketch
- Medieval Costumes Paper Dolls– by Dover, another resource for seeing the costuming detail
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.
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.
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.
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!