Thursday 30 May 2013

Toddler's 14th Century Shirt

The shirt I said I’d start on Monday got finished earlier today. As with most historic sewing projects this year, I fit it into one of the HSF challenges. It’s made up from three rectangles, two squares and two triangles.

Hiding behind the straw hat from challenge # 9he looked so
adoringly sweet in one of the pictures I took, but as I try
to keep his privacy somewhat intact, I won’t post that one. Sorry.

As you might know by now I try to save fabric (and thereby money) when I can, and so this shirt is made from a medium coarse linen runner bought in a charity shop, and, as I could only get the body and sleeves from out of that (by the way, industrially made linen items are not cut along a thread), some old scraps from an old linen dress of mine that had the same quality, for the gores and gussets. The two fabrics differ slightly in shade, but not enough to be very noticeable. The gores are both pieced.

I believe that this might have been a possible practice at the time, cutting down old linens for the children. If they didn’t match perfectly, it was not as important as being able to dress the little one. One plus to making children’s linens this way is that the material is already worn soft.

 Felled seams and the different shades of the fabrics.

As usual, the shirt is hand sewn with waxed linen thread, and all seams are neatly felled. Usually I’d have hem stitched the hems, but I made the shirt too large, so B will be able to wear it next year as well, and running stitches will be quicker to take out then. The shirt might possibly be large enough for him to wear even the year after that. The sleeves have deep hems, and can be let down 4,5 centimetres, and the bottom hem can be let down 3 centimetres. It’s also cut really wide in the body and sleeves.

The Challenge: # 11 Squares, Rectangles and Triangles.

An old linen runner, scraps from an old linen dress.

None. I measured and cut.

It would probably work for the whole Middle Ages, and likely both before and after too, but it’s intended for 14th century use. A wide, rounded neckline might have been more common, but the higher keyhole neckline protects better against sun and cold when worn closed and overlapping a bit.

Linen thread.

How historically accurate is it?
Pretty much; the material, construction and stitching is all period.

Hours to complete:
Maybe seven or eight.

First worn: For the pictures.

Total cost:
30 SEK ($4,5; £3; €3,5).


  1. Very cute...and I love the idea of using different pieces/remnants of linen. The piecing is so well made, I can hardly tell the difference from the photos though :)


  2. Adorable! I'm a huge fan of piecing, and it's period correct.

  3. It is adorable! And brilliant to use the linen runner. My two oldest boys need new 14th c. clothes if we are to attend the local Faire in period attire and though I can often find cotton sheets to use for 19th century underwear at the thrift store, its' hard to find much made of linen. I need to check out the table-cloth and such section. Your work is beautiful as always, and your little guy is adorable in his new shirt!

  4. Thank you! I try to use up all of my scraps, so some of my projects are pieced, more or less. Having pieced clothing feels more real, too.

    Sarah, old tablecloths, curtains etc. can be treasures! I always take a look in the home textiles department when in charity shops. I have a fine, white linen tablecloth that I'll likely make wimples and veils from :)


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