Renaissance costumes are fun to make (and to wear)! I made these costumes recently using my Cricut Maker. If you’ve been thinking of making Renaissance or Medieval costume, you’ve come to the right place to have all your questions answered. Fabrics such as cotton, linen or wool create the best end result for this type of project!
Renaissance Costume Pattern Review + Tips
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Men’s Renaissance Costume
Our son Ted has been loving the DIY renaissance costume I recently made for him. It only took a couple days to put this entire look together using Simplicity Pattern #S4059. The pattern is simple to follow and fits really well. I didn’t need to make any size adjustments which is always encouraging! The white shirt was an easy sew using an old queen size bedsheet for fabric.
The Medieval and Renaissance time-periods calls for simple fabrics and colors, such as cotton, wool, or linen. Any of these fabrics would be great choices and also very easy to find in stores. For this particular project, I chose cotton and linen. The bedsheet worked well for the white undershirt as the pattern is just HUGE. I used the entire queen size sheet for this one shirt. Those big billowy sleeves require A LOT of fabric, but I love how it looks and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
I did use interfacing in the collar and also elastic in the cuffs, but you could easily do without them as they didn’t have that sort of thing back in the 13th century. As a Renaissance costume, no one really expects things to be that accurate and I am all for modern inventions that still look fitting for the time period.
The Renaissance costume vest features wide shoulders and a peplum hem. These are both easy to make and attach with a few simple seams. A green cotton broad cloth lines the vest. I used a scrap of mystery fabric from the thrift store for this purpose.
I didn’t need to make the trousers that were included with the pattern as we were fortunate enough to find a pair of black linen drawstring pants at the thrift store in Ted’s size. We cut them off just under the knee and left the raw hem to add to the overall effect of the costume.
The leather details are my own design and were cut on the Cricut Maker. You can find the details for that portion of the costume here. Attach the leather pieces to the jerkin with rivets and grommets. The leather placket gives authenticity and stability to the laced up front, and the grommets were easy to install through all the layers using a hammer and a wooden cutting board.
It took a bit of muscle to pound them all in place. But it was also very gratifying and well worth the effort. The vest is not washable because of the leather trim, however dry cleaning is an option if needed. I am not concerned with longevity as I think it will hold up just fine. The front lacing is a faux suede cord from the craft store.
Women’s Renaissance Costume
The women’s costume is much more time consuming to make. This pattern is Simplicity pattern #S3809. I made this costume several years ago so I was already familiar with its construction. Overall, this costume is not hard to construct. However, the bodice is rather time consuming.
This time, I used different fabrics that required more special care. The corset and overskirt are a beautiful wool crepe from the thrift store. Wool cannot be ironed directly. You must use a press cloth when pressing all seams. Without a press cloth, the material will have an un-natural permanent shine left from the heat of the iron on the surface.
In addition, the seam allowance can leave marks on the right side if it is over pressed. Ideally you should use a pressing ham for pressing the seams to avoid this problem. I used a rolled up towel instead as I haven’t invested in a ham just yet.
Women’s Fitting Adjustments
As usual, I had to make a large number of fitting changes for the bodice and skirt pattern. The corset is lengthened for my long torso and widened to fit through the waist. The skirt is widened and lengthened as well. I am not very happy with the over all fit of either piece. There are too many puckers for my liking, especially on the corset. Most of the problem is due to the interlining and fabric that I used to line the bodice.
Women’s Fabric Choices
The Simplicity pattern calls for the bodice fabric, interlining, and lining – three layers total. When I made this style in the past, I used a tapestry for the corset, with muslin interlining and muslin lining. That garment fits me well and is very comfortable to wear. This time, I tried a stiffer interlining thinking it would work better for a more structured garment. I used drapery bastiste as the interlining which is a thin cotton but very stiff and rigid. It was recommended for making corsets on another blog but I don’t care for it at all. The purple wool crepe is wonderfully form fitting and shapes easily, but paired with the stiff interlining, it doesn’t shape the way it should. The combination of the two incompatible fabrics create all sorts of puckering that wouldn’t be there if I chose different fabrics.
In addition, the lining is too thin and doesn’t offer any additional support. It would work better to have the boning attached to a thicker fabric such as muslin which is what I used in my first attempt at this garment. (You can see it warping in the wrong direction above.) The thin lining, stiff boning and even stiffer interlining don’t work together the way they should. They cause rippling and puckering when they pull against each other. The casings for the boning are pieces of bias tape stitched on either side with the 1/2″ wide plastic boning in the center. Boning supplies can be ordered online from Vogue Fabrics Store.
Women’s Pattern Review
I would not use a drapery product again for this style. I can feel it against my skin through the lining while wearing the dress. It’s certainly scratchy and very uncomfortable. The bodice has several rows of plastic boning stitched into the lining which is just a scrap of grey satin from the thrift store. Ideally, I would like a lot more boning for support as I don’t think this design provides enough for my large figure. The gold leaf embroidery detail around the neck and center front is variegated embroidery thread that I added before the grommets and leather details were installed.
I have been studying corset fitting and drafting for some time, and I think it would be best for me to draft my own pattern next time around. There are simply too many fit issues to contend with and I think I would be happier with the result of a custom pattern. I am also going to invest in some french Coutil for my next corset. Although it is an expensive fabric (about $25 a yard), it is authentic for corset making and also perfect for shaping a good fitting garment.
Women’s Chemise Pattern
The chemise was one I already had from the same Simplicity pattern a few years ago. Made from ivory cotton voile, it is thin and comfortable. It has three rows of elastic in the sleeves to create the full sleeve look. I occassionaly wear it out under a vest for special occasions since I love the fit and style.
Women’s Costume Embellishments
The front of the corset has grommets and leather trim that was a design I cut on my Cricut Maker. You can find more about that project here. The grommets were easy to apply to the wool, and the lacing is faux suede cord from the craft store. After lacing the corset, my skirts were huge. A corset can easily change your waist measurement by several inches, however I forgot this when I measured my waist for the skirt. I need to make skirt smaller so it will fit my shape after corseting. Although I was a bit annoyed at first, this is a good problem to have! The green underskirt was a silk skirt that I found at the thrift store for a few dollars. I should have added pockets to the overskirt but it didn’t occur to me at the time. I will add them next time around!
The only bad thing about the long skirts being silk is that it is very slippery against the purple wool fabric over skirt. I will need to tack the over skirt up in place so it doesn’t slip down over the bottom layer when wearing it to the Faire or a Halloween party.
That’s it! I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. I have so many fabulous things on my cutting table so be sure to stop by again soon tosee what’s happening!
For more sewing ideas, try these posts:
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