Green cyrtel project post

As you’ll know if you’ve particularly noticed the SCA side of this blog, the hem of my green cyrtel (also known, later on, as kirtle) annoyed me. I thought I was being smart and not wasting fabric when I ignored the t-tunic pattern’s directions to round off the bottom of the gores. Afterward I learned why the pattern says that: it’s because it makes the hem a lot more even.

This is the second summer that I’ve looked at and said, “Maybe I’ll do something to the green this time,” and I actually got around to doing it.

Here’s how it looked before, to refresh your memory:


Part of the cause of the unevenness is that I hung the fabric up to dry after washing it, when I first got it, and its own weight pulled on it enough to stretch it into a not-quite-rectangle. I can’t do anything about that, so that will stay. You can see its effects clearly in this picture — notice the way the front and back parts (not the gores — the body) don’t line up.


First I took out my scissors and cut the seams of the gores, leaving me with two triangles and something kind of like a tabard with sleeves. You can see them in this picture.

“But,” you say, “there’s two other triangles in the picture too. What are they for?”

Well, when I rounded off the bottom edges of the gores, I found I lost about two feet of width off the hem. Which in itself is fine, as the skirt still has (or would have, when reassembled) plenty of room to move in. But my smock has quite a wide skirt, and I didn’t fancy bunching all that up under my cyrtel now that it’s suddenly so much narrower. So I took out my leftover fabric, and (with lots of help from my sister, both with math and with actually cutting, since the scissors don’t co-operate with me being left-handed) cut out two more narrow gores to replace the yardage I lost.

This is another thing I really like about doing just two wide gores at the sides and not bothering to slit up the front and back of the body piece to put gores there too. It’s a lot easier to adjust things like this. There is a disadvantage, though, which is that all the weight of the wool hangs from the narrowest part of the gore where it meets the body, and tends to pull and make holes there. I wasn’t sure how I’d prevent that this time around.

I started the project on May 5th, and on the 23rd of the same month I finished it. I only had so much time because I brought it to my grandmother’s, when we went to visit her for five days or so. It turned out really nicely! The fabric didn’t quite match up between the tops of the gores and the sleeves — the pictures make that clearer — and I could have avoided that if I took off the sleeves and sewed them back on, but I’d done enough work already. Even though small holes are forming in the armpits, where seams meet seams, and they probably need taking care of soon. . .

I washed it and that did wonders for the crooked body. The hem is still not perfectly level, the gores being on the floor, in fact, but it’s much, much better. And. . . somehow I went up a social class or two just because my skirt is a couple of inches longer. Because it’s not just about “I can afford to waste two more inches of fabric”, it’s the difference between having a skirt that comes to the top of your feet and having one that trails on the floor. The latter says “I don’t have to do hard physical work where this would be a problem getting muddy or caught in things or torn”. This also makes it harder to do the seventh-century look, which shouldn’t be a problem very often, as I’m mostly eleventh-century (late) Anglo-Saxon.

I really like how it turned out. The gores now come low enough (though the tops aren’t level with each other) that I have something of a waist, not as much of a potato sack. It also means I get rid of those wads of extra fabric up by my armpits, which is nice. The tops turned out really nicely. The entire time I was worried about how they’d work out, because I’m not very good with them, and I had three separate seams converging up there to deal with. The hem is much more even now.

I suppose you’d like pictures.



These were taken the evening I finished, before I washed it, so you can see how the one seam still slants.

I really want to test how well it does in rain, so that I can write those parts better for Of the North. But my mother thinks I’m crazy for suggesting it. Maybe if we get a good rain during the day, now that it’s wearable again and I’m home, I’ll try it.

unnamed (20)


About Nolie Alcarturiel

Creative Writing major and Philosophy minor, contemplating a Master's degree in Medieval History. I enjoy practically anything to do with medieval history, including the domestic arts, with an especial emphasis on the Anglo-Saxon Era. In my spare time I read endlessly, do medieval living-history, hold philosophical debates at the drop of a hat, and write books on even slighter provocation.
This entry was posted in SCA and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Green cyrtel project post

  1. Copying my comment here, to be sure you get it…XD Also, cool project! Last time I tried to use a sewing machine I nearly put my eye out, and these days I scramble for time to do my mending…but I appreciate costumes. XD

    Deborah Alcock is the author, and I definitely enjoyed that particular book. But if you end up looking into her books, my favorite is Crushed Yet Conquering with The Spanish Brothers next…a few are on Project Gutenberg.


    • Thanks! I’ve actually never tried using a machine yet. Just watching one at work scares me. I’ve mastered the art of falling off chairs while sitting on them, so I much prefer a simple needle.

      I will look up her books, thank you! If nothing else, our library system is pretty good.


  2. Pingback: August Wrap-up | Of Dreams and Swords

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s