Thursday, 31 May 2018

Medieval Me - Upcycled 1500 Working Woman Costume Project

Introduction - Costume for the Castle


I have only ever made Victoriana inspired, vaguely Steampunk costumes before so it was interesting to attempt a medieval-ish outfit, circa 1500, for a Knights at the Castle event at Oakham Castle.

I gave myself a £5 budget and a 5 hour time budget for my ensemble.  Was this possible?  I had been collecting linen garments, bought at charity shops and jumble sales, for a couple of years.  These were going to form the basis of my outfit.

I searched through my wardrobe for something to wear as my shift, the garment which was worn under all costumes from this era.  Think of it as a cross between a vest and a petticoat, a loose nightshirt type garment usually made of linen.

I found a cream top to use (I've allowed this as a "freebie" in my costings as it is something from my wardrobe).  It had a floral embroidered overlay and I considered cutting this away to leave the garment more "plain".  Then I realised I could save some cutting and stitching by simply turning it inside out so the plain lining was on the outside.

Modern Me


Anyway, here is the top before:

Medieval Me - Upcycled 1500 Working Woman Costume Project by Karen Vallerius

The Linen Elements


I had the following items in the to-be-upcycled linen stash: a large size pair of taupe linen drawstring trousers (cost £2 at Cancer Research); a John Lewis pale lime green summer top (20p at a jumble sale); and finally an ivory linen tablecloth (50p at a jumble sale).  Here are the linen items before I started work, they cost a grand total of £2.70:

Medieval Me - Upcycled 1500 Working Woman Costume Project by Karen Vallerius

Medieval Me - Upcycled 1500 Working Woman Costume Project by Karen Vallerius

Medieval Me - Upcycled 1500 Working Woman Costume Project by Karen Vallerius

Linen trousers upcycled into medieval maxi skirt


The linen trousers had an elasticated waist and I thought I would simply cut out the inside leg seams and make into a skirt.  However as the trousers were tapered towards the ankles I cut away the waist to become the new hemline so that the skirt now tapered out from the hips to the hem.  The hems became the waistline.  I stitched a new casing, re-used the original elastic, and created a simply lapped side opening which I fastened with a button and a hair elastic.  I find hair elastics are brilliant for creating button loops, cheap and a great choice of colours.

Medieval Me - Upcycled 1500 Working Woman Costume Project by Karen Vallerius

Medieval Me - Upcycled 1500 Working Woman Costume Project by Karen Vallerius

Time to make skirt - approx. 1 hour.

Old linen tablecloth into medieval apron


The apron had some embroidered motifs which were far too fancy for a 1500 working woman's apron, so I cut a section from the centre of the apron so that only one of the motifs was visible (I plan to unpick this in due course).  I cut strips from the edge of the apron which I used for the waist ties.  I had seen that aprons from this era used a different method of joining the skirt section to the waist tie section.

Medieval Me - Upcycled 1500 Working Woman Costume Project by Karen Vallerius


Time to make apron - approx. 45 minutes.

Green linen blouse into 1500 jacket


This was the most fun to make!  Firstly I chopped off the sleeves to above the elbow - these sections would be used for godets at the waistline.  Then I hacked the neckline to make it lower and squarer.  I finished the neckline by speedily overlocking and then turning the edges under.  I worked a duplicate set of buttonholes opposite the original buttonholes so that I could lace up the front of the jacket with a piece of cord I found in the craft cupboard.  I inserted the godets and hemmed them.

Medieval Me - Upcycled 1500 Working Woman Costume Project by Karen Vallerius


Time to make jacket - approx. 2 hours.

Muslin offcut into coif effect headwrap


I had planned to make a coif (cap) but realised I didn't have time to draft a pattern (something for next time).  I had seen some medieval head wrap, turban type ideas.  I experimented firstly with a silk scarf but it was way too slippy and kept falling off!  I had a couple of scraps of muslin in my tablecloth stash so I made a large triangle out of them and experimented until I could tie it in what I thought was a reasonably effective way.

Medieval Me - Upcycled 1500 Working Woman Costume Project by Karen Vallerius

Time to stitch muslin headwrap - approx. 30 minutes.

More costume details


I tied the original drawstring from the linen trousers round my waist so that I could hide my watch under the apron.

I had a little vintage Welsh love spoon pendant which I thought was a suitable necklace.

I wore simple pearl earrings (not authentic I know but ... ) and I removed my wedding ring.

My shoes were not really in keeping but a pair of black flat Mary Janes, the best I could do.

Medieval Me


Medieval Me - Upcycled 1500 Working Woman Costume Project by Karen Vallerius

Whilst parading about in garments in various stages of completion I made my husband jump!  I also scared the dog in the full 1500 get up.  Anyway, the outfit was within my time and cost budgets and an interesting upcycling project.

Medieval Me - Upcycled 1500 Working Woman Costume Project by Karen Vallerius







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2 comments

  1. wonderful make - love the way the tones all work together-

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you, I had been looking for a project for that blouse for ages so was glad to use it here

    ReplyDelete

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