Kirtles – 3 Lacing

Overview | Pattern | Lacing | Gores & Fitting | Sleeves | Final Fitting


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The first thing I do before sewing the body of the kirtle and fitting is create the front lacing placket. The reason I do this is so that when I am ready to fit the torso of the gown I have an accurate closure on the front. This has saved me so much time over the years.

Step One – Sewing the lacing placket first means that the front gore must be sewn in now. I sew in the front gores before the lacing placket so that I can start the gore higher on the torso. I would like to add fullness beginning at the waist but the lacing placket needs to fall as low as the groin. So, the gore goes in first.You can see how it looks finished to the right with the gores finishing higher than the bottom of the lacing placket. Adding the gore at this point creates a curve in the front edge. But the front edge is always cut on the straight of grain. I find that not only is it easier to sew but it is very supportive and gives a period silhouette for the mid 1300’s in this region.

Step Two – Create the lacing placket. You need 2 strips (one for each side) of linen or silk that are 1″ longer than your lacing placket (neckline to groin) and 2″ wide. The color can match or not, there is not enough evidence to say if there was any preference. Sew the strip to the right side of the front piece using a running stitch. Fold the strip so that it now is on the wrong side and sew down the facing at the edge using the running stitch.

Step Three – Turn under the raw edges of the strip and sew them down using the running stitch or whip stitch. You might want to use pins to make sure that the facing and the outer fabric lie flat together, especially if using silk. I prefer linen but what little facing info we have from period is silk.

You might want to begin the facing for the neckline too in order to make your final lacing holes but the last 2 holes at the top aren’t required for your fitting.
Step Four – Now it is time to add your eyelets. Instructions for making an eyelet can be found here.14th Century lacing was generally, but not always, done using a method called spiral lacing. For a good explanation of spiral lacing, please visit The Zen of Spiral Lacing. You will notice that the holes are staggered with the exception of the first and last holes.

Your placket should look like this when you are done.

5 thoughts on “Kirtles – 3 Lacing

    • I would think you’d just build the lacing on the side the same way but I think it would be hard to fit. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a side laced kirtle in this time period or location. If you’re thinking of a Bliaut I would probably treat the facings and eyelets the same way

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