Kirtles – 5 Sleeves

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


Please click on small thumbnail images to download a larger image


Step One – Baste your two small sleeve triangles to the tops of one sleeve. As long as your triangles are similar in ratio to your sleeve as is shown at right, you are okay.

Baste the sleeve together, starting with your small triangles and ending at the grey line. This is where your button placket will begin.

Baste the sleeve into the armscye of your kirtle body. You might find that your need to do one of the following:

  • Use only one triangle
  • Use a third triangle
  • Slighty adjust the size of one or both triangles

There is no right way to make these triangles and evidence shows that they used as many as 7 triangles to fit a sleeve into the armscye of a garment.

Step Two – Sew your sleeves into your kirtle body. I sew my sleeves in with a strip of linen or silk similar to the lacing placket pieces. The strip should be 2″ longer than the circumfrance of your sleeve head and 2″ wide.

Fold the strip over the sleeve seam and tuck the raw edge under. Trim your sleeve seam so that one edge is lowre than the other to remove bulk. Tack your strip down to the seam
stitches using a whip stitch.

Note: The only evidence to date for bound seams is from the cloak thought to have belonged to St. Birgitta. The garment as been altered over the centuries and perhaps the bound seams are not from the 14th century. I have found, however, the binding the sleeve seam in this manner finishes the seams nicely and reduced the bulk of a french seam. You may of course omit the strip and either leave the seam raw if wool (not recommended for linen or other fabrics that ravel) or sew a french seam. You may also finish as some of the gowns in the Greenland finds are finished and card weave along the sewn edge.

Step Three – Create the button placket. You need 2 strips (one for each side) of linen or silk that are 1″ longer than your lacing placket and 2″ wide. The length is determined by how many buttons you wish to use. There is evidence for as little as three and as many as, well, from your wrist to your shoulder. The color can match or not, there is not enough evidence to say if there was 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.

Turn under the raw edges of the strip and sew them down using the running 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.

Step Four – Attach the buttons that you either made or purchased. To learn how to make your own buttons see thebutton demo (coming soon).

These are images of the final placket, from inside and outside

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