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Modern Costume Patterns for Medieval Clothing

Updated on June 21, 2011

Let's Look Medieval!

Here is a list of costume patterns that will make reasonably good-looking medieval clothing. I haven't tried making most this stuff up, but have found that Butterick, McCall's and Simplicity are reasonably easy to construct and pretty accurate to fit.

Hancock Fabrics puts these patterns on sale once a month for $1.99 each (99 cents around certain holidays), so it can be a cheap and fairly easy way to try a new look.

Note: None of these patterns are historically accurate in terms of construction method. If you are interested in doing medieval reenacting, please check the authenticity standards of the group you are planning on joining first. All of these patterns, with my noted changes, are acceptable for use in the SCA, but some organizations, especially in England and Europe, are much more concerned with accuracy.

Women's Patterns

Early Period (prior to 1300's)

· 13th Century Dresses - Butterick #B3552. Sleeves shouldn't cover the hands.

· Sort of 13th Century Dress - Butterick #B4571. You should not put a contrasting fabric in the front panel.

· T-Tunic - McCall's #M2239. The pattern is for biblical costumes, but the robe is a basic, early-period garment. Mary's head covering/veil is similar to that worn by Saxon women (and if you're going Saxon, make everything in bright colors, including the veil).

14th Century

· Cotehardie and Sideless Surcoat - McCall's #M3653. The pattern for my first dress; now out-of-print, but you might still find it in a pattern drawer. The sideless surcoat shouldn't lace up the sides.

· Cotehardie and Sideless Surcoat (this appears to have replaced the old 3653 pattern) - McCall's #5499 Laces up the back. Keyhole neckline is not accurate-you can just cut that straight across. The henin (pointed hat) is not accurate to wear with cotehardies.

· Cotehardie-Like Dress and Cape - Butterick #B4377

· Cotehardie - McCall's #M4490. Don't do the close-fitting neck option, as shown on A-B.

· Cotehardie - McCall's #4491. Don't do the sleeveless version A-B; short-sleeved is okay if you wear a long-sleeved chemise (or make a "false sleeve") under it.

· Cotehardie - Butterick #B4827. Laces up the back; also has pattern for a separate skirt to make a false underdress.


· Italian Renaissance - Simplicity #9531

· Italian Renaissance - McCall's #M5647

· Italian Renaissance - McCall's #M5444

· Houpplande/Italian Ren - McCall's #M5155

· Tudor/Italian Ren/Houpplande - Simplicity #9929. It's put together crazy, but it seems to look okay. The red dress is Tudor, the green a sort of Italian Ren, and the gold-brown a 15th century houpplande. I believe the steeple hat pattern is included and is not a bad Tudor hat. The henin hat is appropriate to wear with the houpplande.

· Tudor - Simplicity #2589

· Tudor/Elizabethan - Simplicity #4508

· Elizabethan - Simplicity #3782. I'm not sure that the padded rolls on View A are accurate; I would leave them off. I'm also not sure as to whether View B is accurate to the Elizabethan period or not; it resembles something I've seen on a supposed portrait of Lady Jane Grey, which would make it more Tudor. Certainly it's not a court dress (more appropriate for casual/home or riding).

Non-Western Countries

· Japanese Kimono - Butterick #B6698

· Indian - Simplicity #4249. The red outfit is a nice salwar chameez. It is the only one of the three outfits shown that is appropriate.


· Headgear/Hats - McCall's #M4806

· Tudor/Elizabethan underwear – Simplicity #2621

Men's Patterns

· Poet Shirt - McCall's #M4862

· Medieval and Renaissance Hats and Hoods - McCall's #M4805. I'm not sure what A is supposed to be-maybe a beret. Never seen it before, at any rate. The porkpie hat (pattern B) is very appropriate to the Tudor and Elizabethan periods. I made one of my husband (drafted my own pattern) with a leather brim and brocade crown. Hood E actually appears 100% historically accurate, so long as you don't make it from the suggested fake suede! These were made from wool, not leather. If you can't get fulled wool or felt, you can make it with any other kind of fabric, just don't do the scallops (dags) around the bottom; cut it straight and hem the bottom. I don't know if pattern C is period at all, but more than a few late-period people in the SCA wear it in leather.

· Man's Cassock - Butterick #B6844. This button-up robe is appropriate from 1200-1500, in a variety of colors; it was often worn by older men and men of political rank. It would have been fairly loose in the middle ages, so feel free to make it a size or two larger than the man wearing it.

· Man's Renaissance Outfit - Butterick #B5656. Ignore the horrible gold lamé; replace with a period fabric.

· Robin Hood Look - Butterick #B4574

· Simple Shirt, Surcoat, Pants and Cape - McCall's #M3658. The accessory patterns suck; stick with traditional SCA belts, shoes, etc.

· Renaissance Doublet - McCall's #M4695

· Doublet - McCall's 5214. Do View A or B, but cut the skirt shorter than what is shown.

· T-Tunic - McCall's #M2239. The pattern is for biblical costumes, but the robe is a basic, early-period garment. Cut shorter for men. The full cape is appropriate.

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Boys' Patterns

· Peter Pan Outfit - Butterick #B4632. Don't dag the sleeves or the hem; just cut both straight. I wouldn't do the knee-high boots in fabric, but the shoe pattern is actually very similar to what people would have worn in the middle ages; make from leather.

· Robin Hood - Butterick #B4319. Again, I wouldn't dag the hem, just make it straight.

· Renaissance Outfit - Butterick #B5656. Don't use metallic fabrics, but cute hat.

· Crusader Outfit - Simplicity #5520. Don't do the Viking-looking thing; the crusader outfit is fine if you skip the fabric boots and the "metal" fabric; just do the hood and shirt in regular colored fabric. If you want to do a heraldic design on the surcoat, paint is appropriate, and you can find all sorts of designs online.

· T-Tunic - McCall's #M2340. The pattern is for biblical costumes, but the robe is a basic, early-period garment.

Girls' Patterns

· Basic Dress w/ cloak - Butterick #4319. I wouldn't bother doing the contrasting stripes down the front; if you want to add trim, do it around the sleeves and/or hem.

· Late-period dress - Butterick #3236. Do view D

· Kimono - McCall's #M4953

· Late period dress - McCall's #M4888. D and B are best, but the only thing off with A is the padded roll-things at the shoulder seam. C should not be used because it is sleeveless.

· Italian Ren - Simplicity #4944. The girls' costumes are adorable; the boys' costumes are 1) not medieval and 2) too Darth Vader.

· Sort of Cotehardies - Simplicity #5520

· Cotehardies - McCall's #M5207. Do View B. The turret headdress is okay if you cut it straight (no crenellations).

· T-Tunic - McCall's #M2340. The pattern is for biblical costumes, but the robe is a basic, early-period garment. Little girls would not have covered their heads.

Misc. Patterns

· Medieval Shoes - Butterick #B5233. Options A-C are medieval; I'm SO going to get this pattern when it's on sale and see how it turns out; I've been wanting to try making my own shoes, but have been hurting for a pattern.

· Gloves - Butterick #B5370. Fingered glove pattern G is acceptable in leather as a riding glove, or to wear under gauntlets. Gloves E, F, and G can be made from silk or cotton for a Tudor or Elizabethan costume.

· Crowns - Butterick #B5161. Pattern A is for Russian or Eastern European wear, not Western Europe. B and C are the most common medieval-style crowns (B for ladies, C for men). Please note, if you are going to an SCA event, NONE of these are acceptable to wear. Because the SCA has ruling royals, no one is allowed to impersonate royalty by wearing crowns.


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    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thanks very much this is very helpful!

    • profile image

      Didge 5 years ago

      Some cool ideas TheMedievalNun!

    • RavenReviews profile image

      RavenReviews 6 years ago

      Great lens I make renaissance clothing and I have all the patterns you mentioned.

    • cdevries profile image

      cdevries 6 years ago

      A useful lens - thanks. I'm going to lensroll it to my theater lense.

    • MedievalCostumeA profile image

      MedievalCostumeA 6 years ago

      Interesting post here is a great blog that describes the different classifications of medieval dress.