15th Century Kirtle

15th Century Kirtle


Red linen kirtle,lined with unbleached linen, worn over a white linen chemise or smock. The headdress is a black woollen open hood worn over a simple white kerchief. All visible seams are handsewn. The red woollen socks or ladies short hosen are completly handsewn. The leather shoes, leather belt with pewter decorations and the pewter brooches are made by my husband.


15th Century Kirtle

Detail of Shepard's dance, MS Lat.873.f21. French, late 15th century, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. Source: A Medieval Book of Seasons.

The period image, taken from the Shepard's Dance, puzzles me quite a bit. The lady is wearing a white linen chemise or smock. The right sleeve seems gathered, the left one does not. The neckline of the smock looks like it has a slit. The kirtle, with flounced hemline, could be a sleeveless kirtle worn over a kirtle with short sleeves, but this is not visible behind the lacing. Or it is a short sleeved kirtle with different color sleeves set in. Both options however are not common, or at least not to my knowledge.
She is wearing a red open hood over a linen kerchief, coif or tailed cap and a white linen apron.

15th Century Kirtle

Detail of Jan van Eyck's, Birth of John the Baptist, Heures de Turin, which is now lost.

Patterns used

This dress is made with the instructions written by Tash Kelly McGann, she calls it the the curved front seam method. I found her instructions very clear and usefull.

More information

This tight fitting, front laced, dress with wide skirt, often called a kirtle. Could be worn with or without the pin-on sleeves. It was the main dress of the 15th women of the working class Often aoverdress(or overkirtle) in similar style as the kirtle was worn over it. Women of higher classes would also wear a kirtle beneath their overdresses, which where more elaborate in style, like for example the houppelande. You can frequently see this type of kirtle in art of the 15th century. There are various types of cut and construction, some resemble the dress of the former century, the cotehardie and some seem to have similar construction to the Moy Bog gown, which is sometimes called the irish cotehardie.

Costume made in 2007.