Saturday 14 March 2015

A Toddler's 14th Century Cotte

Today I finished my first medieval project (I think) in two years! Two summers ago I did a lot of sewing, as we intended to attend events with our group. Those plans fell through due to illness and other things, and in the wake of the disappointment I lost all taste for making medieval clothes. Last year I didn’t make anything, as we, due to little H being born at the beginning of the season, didn’t plan to attend any events. This summer though, we hope to attend at least one weekend event – fingers crossed!

Two years ago I made a toddler’s cotte for B. As always with the children’s historical clothes I made it a bit too large, which I’m very happy about now as he never really got to use it then. Yesterday I took it out and found that, after letting down the wide double hem, it would still fit him, though now being a tad on the short side. The sleeves had only been folded back before, but now I hemmed them too.

The cotte is made from the left over fabric of Tobias’s cotehardie (from which I have also made myself a pair of hose – the whole family wears clothes from the same fabrics…), a nice, lightly fulled wool. It’s in a style called “Nockert type 5”. This style is slightly too early for us really, but as it’s used in a small child’s garment – that often looks very simple in this period – I think it’s acceptable. Besides, it was the only way I could use the fabric I had in an efficient way.

I’ve sewed it with waxed linen thread, mixing running stitches and back stitches. All seams are felled. The single folded hems are stitched with double rows of running stitches that show as small dots on the right side. 

The neck and shoulders are lined with linen (pieced in a couple of places), to prevent itching – my boy has sensitive skin. 

The cotte closes in front with self fabric buttons and buttonholes.

B likes it – when he tried it on yesterday he kept it on for more than an hour, and he was happy to have pictures taken of it today. He wore it over a linen shirt (that I also let down the hems on), modern clothes – it’s still winter after all, and I don’t have enough warm medieval children’s clothes to keep the chill out - and the hood I made him when he was a baby.

I’m so happy to have found my way back to sewing medieval things again. There will be more to come, I’m sure!

Crowfoot, E. Pritchard, F. & Stainland, K. (2001). Textiles and Clothing c.1150-c.1450. Bury St Edmunds: Museum of London.

Nockert, M. (1985). Bockstenmannen Och Hans Dräkt. Halmstad och Varberg: Stiftelsen Hallands länsmuseer.


  1. Fantastic photos! And a lovely garment as well! :)

  2. Beautiful! I just love that he is willing to wear this stuff, and is happy in it! And the construction is so exquisite. I would LOVE to see more interior photos of the stitching.

    Here's hoping it makes it to a few events!

  3. Thanks :)
    Here is a sample piece using the same fabric, thread and stitches as the cotte:

  4. Simple but simply perfect. And your little man looks like he adores it, too. Wonderful work, Sarah. :)

  5. Lovely work as always! And I so hope to see you and the whole family at an event this year!


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