So You Want To Learn How To Make A “Cotehardie”

Honestly I’m writing this because a friend of mine was asking people for help on the Book of Faces about how men’s 14th C “cotehardies”* are constructed.  I was just going to send these to him, but it occurred to me that other people might want this information too….. so I am compiling it on the internet

*cotehardie is in quotes here because, while re-enactors have mostly decided to call them that, it’s not actually a period term and its use is highly debated.  For clarity I am using it, but I wanted to make that note.

Basically this is a knee-length men’s garment with four-panel construction and no waist seam.  It usually closes up the front with buttons but they can be laced as well.  It differs from similar earlier cotes and tunics by being fitted to the body.

My first recommendation is to buy the Medieval Tailor’s Assistant.  I know you’ve heard me say that approximately 1000000 times, but it remains a fabulous resource.  It will walk you through making a personal body block, drafting a cotehardie from that, drafting sleeves, all the construction, how to do buttonholes…. etc.

If that feels beyond your skill level, there are a couple of patterns available that will work, although obviously the fit will not be as good as one drafted from a personal block.

Reconstructing History has a men’s cotehardie pattern— I have worked from their patterns before and they are OK in terms of instructions, although not super detailed.  The sizing can be a little odd, so mock-ups are a must.

Not that you shouldn’t always be doing mock-ups to test fit, but I’ve come out with skirt waists 6″ too big from their patterns.  Really do a mock-up.

Medieval Misc/Period Patterns also has a pattern, although from personal experience I will say that if you can follow a Medieval Misc pattern you should just learn how to drape a body block and draft your own freaking patterns, because you clearly know how garments go together.  The instructions are….confusing.

For every other piece of information, trick, tutorial, article and hint you may need to get the job done, La Cotte Simple probably has what you need.  I love this site– it’s where I got the tutorial to drape my body block.  I will say that men have it significantly easier in terms of fitting, since y’all don’t need the dress to support any breast nonsense.  I’m jealous.

For inspiration I recommend this living history group on Instagram– they do earlier 14th C (think Herjolfsnes/Luttrell Psalter, not so fitted/tailored) but all of their clothing looks like clothing, not costume, in a way that I love.

Honestly, if you are going to sew a lot, you should really learn how to make a body block.  I like to drape mine, but that’s a personal preference and drafting works too.  It will save you so much time and energy and gives you a starting point for your projects that you know fits.  It does start to be less applicable when you get to later styles with side-back seams, but it is a fantastic way to start.

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