The Ever-Elusive Plaid Cotehardie


With the help of my friend Melanie, I made a cotehardie for Coronation in September.  But this wasn't just any cotehardie, this was a Spanish cotehardie.  Yep.  Parti-colored.  Plaid.  And bias-cut.  Those darn Spaniards.  

The idea for this came about after a conversation on the SCA-Garb email list, started by Mistress Jessamyn di Piemonte.  My dress is based on a detail in a retable that she found of Salome with the head of John the Baptist.  


(The picture shown on the SCA-garb articles page, the second one down, does not give a citation.  It has since been found -- School of Tarragona.  altarpiece from the Castle of Santa Coloma de Queralt
dedicated to St, John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, c. 1365. Museu d'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona)


The non-period technique of having a bust dart was used, rather than the usual 'princess seamed' cotehardie pattern.  It was decided that it'd be better to disturb the plaid just a little bit with a dart, than to disturb the plaid by having several panels of it.  

It worked out surprisingly well -- as seen in the photo to the right.  

This being mostly an exercise in learning to drape on the bias, we used just plain old cotton flannel.  As soon as I'm feeling wealthy, I'll make it out of wool.  I've already got the stuff I want from Phoenix Textiles picked out.  

It required an awful lot of fabric to have the plaid on the bias.  And unfortunately, the solid green fabric was only 45" wide, so it just wasn't possible to  have that on the bias also.  The bias/non-bias stretch problems weren't as bad as I'd anticipated -- the sleeves had to be re-cut a few times to get them right, and there were some problems with the skirt not hanging straight.  (And with parti-colored gowns, the seam better be right down the middle -- else it looks funny.)  This was solved by simply making one side of the skirt not as full.  The neckline/front opening had similar problems, but could not be fixed. 

The dress actually looks good when I'm standing up straight -- gotta remember to do that more.