12th century dress - blue & yellow silk,  12th century projects,  12th century wedding clothing project,  Hand-Sewing,  Projects

12th century dress for the “12th century wedding clothing project” – sneak peek .3 – working at the keyhole neckline

2015-03-12 - Racaire - 12th century dress - keyhole neckline - 12th century wedding clothingAnd even more progress concerning my 12th century dress today! I think I can say that I am a rather busy hand sewing “bee” at the moment. 😉

After I finished my 14th century inspired Klosterstich rose embroidery two days ago, I already started working at my 12th century dress again. And during the last two days I was able to make some great progress which I can show you now. 🙂

As you know from my latest posting about my 12th century dress project, I finished the main hand sewing of my dress last week. And yesterday I was able to start adding the first embellishment to my dress.

The very first embellishment of my 12th century dress is a lovely “golden” keyhole neckline. I am using a beautifully patterned shiny yellow silk fabric for my “golden” keyhole neckline. It is the same yellow silk which I already used for my husbands 12th century tunic.

2015-03-12 - Racaire - 12th century dress - keyhole neckline - 12th century wedding clothing projectAnd now let’s take a look at the progress of the keyhole neckline of my 12th century dress – enjoy! 😀


Yes, as you can see on the picture above, I really need a lot of pins when I am working at a keyhole neckline. But every pin will help me tremendously during the next step which involves many tiny stitches and finally provides me with a smooth and flat border.

I know, connecting all layers of the border with tiny, nearly invisible hand sewing stitches is a lot of work but definitely worth it and really makes a difference! 🙂

And now let’s take a closer look at the keyhole neckline:


If you wonder how I make my keyhole necklines, please don’t worry. I already took many step-by-step photos of the process while I was working at the keyhole neckline for my husbands tunic. And while I am working at this new neckline I try to take even more detail photos which will make it easier to explain some small but very helpful steps. And as soon as this neckline is finished, I will put a nice photo tutorial together for you. 🙂

But for now, let’s get back to the tiny stitches I mentioned above. As you can see on the picture underneath, even with all the pins the border really doesn’t stay flat. And well, it really has a good reason not to…


I think that the recipe for good clothing is always based on a certain understanding of how the fabric works and moves and some of the special “mechanism” behind it. What makes this border so bulky (especially when you work with thicker materials like wool) is that the yellow silk which you can see now on top was actually before at the underside and in a flat condition. Turning it from the inside to the outside over the sewn seam and forcing it to build a nice sharp edge – well, unless you iron it flat now, it won’t really work that well. *lol*

Like paper also fabric has a certain kind of “memory”, as I tend to call it. Some of you might have already had the problem with this kind of fabric “memory”. I think the easiest way to explain this is when you think of fabric which was stored for a long period of time with some folds in it. It can be a very tough struggle to get this folds out again and sometimes you can’t get rid of them at all.

And in the case of this neckline we have two things that work against me at the moment. First: the fabric would like to be flat again, like it was before and
second: you have a seam and more fabric on the inside.

Well, I could still chose the “fast method” and carefully iron the whole neckline down. But I am really not a fan of ironing and prefer a long lasting method which ensures that this layers will never move again. And to ensure this, I will add many tiny stitches through all fabric layers along the border in my next work step. This will keep all the different fabric layers in place and furthermore force the fabric to build a flat and rather sharp edge.

Yes, I use this technique every time when I embellish my clothing with some extra fabric – regardless if this embellishment is for the bottom, the cuffs or the neckline. And though it might be some extra work now, it saves me a lot of work later when I just hang my hand-sewn clothing to dry after I washed it in the washing machine. Oh yes, you can really tell that I am not a fan of ironing… 😉

12th century inspired embroidery - Medieval embroidery

And to give you a better idea of what I am describing, I dug out a detail picture of one of my recent dress projects for you. Above you can see a detail picture of the bottom border of my blue short woolen 12th century dress. When you look close, you can see small grey dots between the bottom red chain stitch embroidery line and the border and also above the top red chain stitch line and the border of the blue fabric.

I made the the stitches, which I described before, at the bottom to get a nice flat border and actually used the same stitches at the top to just sew the band of fabric to the dress and to also get a rather nice flat border here. Afterwards I had a nice band of fabric which I could embroider with whatever pattern I liked. And as the pattern developed I placed the outer red chain stitch lines quite close to this stitches but I also could have left more space… 🙂

And yes, I even used this small stitches along all the borders of my husbands 12th century tunic to assure a perfect edge. I can tell you – the embellishment for the bottom border made me nearly regret this kind of perfectionism. *lol*

Last but not least a small hint:
If you want a nice border which is flat and decorative, you can also use a stitch like the Stem Stitch or the Chain Stitch around the border instead of the Running Stitch I use.
And you could call this a very useful embellishment. 😉

I hope you enjoyed the new progress pictures of my 12th century dress. And I might have even more new pictures of this project for you soon! 😀

Best regards Racaire