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12th century dress for the “12th century wedding clothing project” – sneak peek .5 – working at the keyhole neckline

2015-03-12 - Racaire - 12th century dress - keyhole neckline - 12th century wedding clothing project - keyhole necklineDuring the last days I found again some spare time to work at the lovely golden keyhole neckline of my dark blue 12th century wedding dress.

And I am very glad to say that I made some good progress. But there is still a lot to do before the hand-sewing part of the keyhole neckline is finished.

Not being a trained tailor, I consider creating a good looking keyhole neckline a quite demanding task. I really can’t help it but every time I start working at a keyhole neckline I get a little bit nervous. I measure and rethink every step at least twice, especially before I start cutting. But well, this seams to be just a little price for a perfect looking keyhole neckline. *lol*

I not even want to count all the pins I used to pin the keyhole neckline of my dress. Believe it or not – there are still several unused pins sticking in my mouse-pincushion. But let’s take a look at the new progress of the keyhole neckline of my 12th century dress and the actual amount of used pins:


Well, I used quite some pins, didn’t I? But the amount of used pins will at least double when I start creating the outer border of the keyhole neckline. And I am very glad that I have enough pins left in my pincushion to do that. *lol*

In the next step I will take the surplus fabric and fold it to get a nice and proper edge. All the raw fabric borders you can see now will be gone soon and it will look even more like a proper keyhole neckline. But before I start with the next step of the hand-sewing, I would like to tell you more about what I have done during the last days to get to the current progress:

First I laid out the fabric of the dress and the keyhole neckline as straight as possible on top of my lap. Well, you really don’t need to use your own lap if you don’t want to. But I normally work on my projects in the living room while watching TV and therefore use my lap or the floor of the living room quite a lot. My working and dinner table is always too crowded with stuff to even think about working at one of this tables though I really want to change this fact eventually – just not now… 😉

My immediate next step was to straighten out the fabric at the shoulder lines and at the center of the back as much as possible and to pin it into place to prevent it from shifting. The pin with the red head on the picture above is one of the pins I used to indicate one of the shoulder lines and to straighten out the fabric pattern at this point.

I think this is especially important while working with a fabric which has a very obvious pattern. I always want the fabric pattern of the dress and the keyhole neckline to look similar on both sides and also on both shoulders. And when it comes to the back of the dress – well, I want the pattern of my fabric being straight and not tilted to one side. This can be easily achieved by putting just a little bit more effort into your pinning now. If you straighten your fabric now and take care that it stays where you want it to be by carefully pinning it down, you don’t need to think about it anymore as soon as you start hand-sewing the edge.


After some consideration I decided to use the same width for my keyhole neckline which I already used for my husbands 12th century over tunic – 7cm. Using a Centimeter measuring tape – sorry, I still can’t get accustomed to use inches and am just too used to using the metric system – I started pinning the fabric of the keyhole neckline to the dress fabric. I placed every pin at a distance of 7cm to the inner border of the keyhole neckline, as you can see on the picture above.

And here a picture of the keyhole neckline after I finished pinning:


You might have already discovered that I didn’t place any pins at the front bottom of the keyhole neckline. Leaving this part unpinned and also uncut, I can decide on how I want this part to look like as soon as the rest of the keyhole neckline is pinned. Based on my past sewing experience I learned not to rush this decision and to keep the shape of the bottom “open” till I have everything else ready… You know – cutting away fabric is always easier then adding some!

And now to the next step – cutting off excess fabric! 😀


With placing all this pins at the measurement where you want your neckline border to be, the cutting is really easy. You just need to decide on how much seam allowance you want to work with – add the seam allowance to the pins and just cut off the rest of the fabric.

But before you start with the actual cutting – please lay out the neckline in front of you and take an additional look at the front and the back. If you maid a major measuring mistake, you will easily be able to discover it at this point and can still adjust it to the right measurement. Making such a measuring mistake can happen easily – especially when you are having a chat with a friend, are watching a good movie or are tired. And yes, it already happened to me at least once in the past.

After checking your measurements a last time and approving them, take your fabric scissors and cut off the excess fabric around the pinned neckline – just leaving a long, unpinned strip at the bottom and some seam allowance next to the pins, like you can see on the next two pictures:


…and here a close-up picture of the pinned keyhole neckline for you:


Yes, I know, I wanted to put together a complete keyhole neckline step-by-step tutorial for you later – and still plan to – but after working at this part I just couldn’t resist to give you some additional in-depth information about how I worked this part. Well, it seems like I just put together the first part of the keyhole neckline tutorial. And more will follow soon!

However, I hope you enjoyed the pictures of the new progress of my keyhole neckline for my 12th century wedding dress. 😀

Best regards Racaire