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21 - COTEHARDIES AND SIDELESS SURCOATS

Period Pattern ™ No.21
Cotehardies and Sideless Surcoats, c. 14th and 15th centuries

Includes patterns for 3 cotehardies and 4 sideless surcoats, in sizes 6-20. These go particularly well with houpelandes from Period Pattern no. 26, as well as chemises from no. 90 , capes from no. 92, and pouches and purses from no. 93

In the first half of the 14th century the discovery that one could cut the armholes and sleeve caps curved, thus achieving a better fit, caused some change in the basic style of tunics (Period Pattern no.16), and one of these developed into the cotehardie. While tunics continued to be worn for another 200 years, cotehardies became the fashionable thing to wear for girls and women of all ages and classes for over 200 years, from England to Bohemia, Norway to Spain. There were regional variations in fit as well as sleeve and neck details, but the basic cut of the cotehardie was the same throughout Europe. Woman's cotehardies were most often fitted or even tight at least to the ribs (more usually to the waist or hips), then flared to the hem. Long or short tight sleeves were most common, but full sleeves in several versions were also worn. Cotehardies would usually be worn over a tight chemise (Period Pattern no. 90).

Sleeveless tunics or surcoats (from the French "sur le cote", i.e. over the cote or tunic) were worn by both sexes as early as the 12th century, but with the return of crusaders from the Holy Land the style became wildly popular. The armholes deepened to the waist, then (particularly for women) to the hip, earning the name "sideless surcoats". When worn by women over very tight cotehardies, sideless surcoats roused the ire of the church because their revealing cut was considered too seductive -the clergy dubbed these "the Gates of Hell"

No-21, view I, altered - Pennsic 2015
No.21, view VI Spanish sideless surcoat over cotehardie with short bell sleeves - CW, Cloisters 2014
No.21, View II, particolor cotehardie, dressed up.
No.21, view II, neckline altered - EG, Pennsic
No.21, view I, particolored coehardie with embroidery - Pennsic 2013
No.21, view III sideless surcoat over view II cotehardie (no tippits) - KS, Virginia, 2014
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You will find the pattern views on the cover in the album section

Surcoats and cotehardies for women could be plain and somber, or wildly colorful; they could be made of plain linen or wool, or brocaded velvet with gold threads woven into the design, whatever the owner could afford and any sumptuary laws allowed. Heraldic motifs were common on both cotehardies and sideless surcoats. Women began wearing houpelandes (Period Pattern no. 26) over a cotehardie after about 1380 A.D. Cotehardies and surcoats as outerwear became unfashionable before 1425, with one exception: cotehardies, with or without sideless surcoats, remained fashionable as regal ceremonial garments for women, until well into the 16th century. When the houpelande went out of fashion, the cotehardie for women briefly re-emerged, with slight changes, as the kirtle (Period Pattern no. 51).


Comments we've received on this pattern:

  •  Mary Jo Sweringa, Lancing,"After I wrote you the last time (see her comments under General Comments About The Patterns *) I finished my dress the next day. Once I got started everything seem to fit in place…It looked really great!...Even though the pattern is more difficult to assemble without the instructions (she lost them!)… The greatest difficulty I’ve encountered (with no instructions!) is where to place the skirt gores…I was glad to have such a great costume to wear."

    Mary Jo Sweringa, Lancing, MI before 3/2001
  • We have lost the name of the person who said this.“We made your cotehardie for our 2nd event, & people thought we’d been in for years. Our young friend made your patterns, & he had never sewn before”.

    We have lost the name of the person who said this.

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