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Really Old   Mediaeval   Renaissance
Sleeve Patterns through time

Really Old

In the beginning when clothes were invented they were, in essence a fabric bag with sleeves and a hole for your head. This persists even to this day as the "T" tunic. A garment which is both easy to make, and very comfortable, and inexpensive, (three) Sleeves as with the rest of the garment, if it is cut, is cut in rectangular shapes so to wast as little of the fabric as possible. Primarily because it was quite a lot of work to spin fibers to yarn and weave it into a textile. But also other fabrics like leather were in limited supply, either by availability, labour, or cost.


With more mechanization and more efficient production of yarns and textiles and growing wealth of the people the cost, quality, quantity and availability of many fabrics improved. These are all from the early and even before the middle ages. with origins in egyptian times, they are either sewn into a shoulder seam, or cut all in one with just two seams one under each arm. The part of the pattern with the three close parallel lines is the shoulder area where you attach it to the body, these lines are for adjusting the length.

In the 1300s tailoring was invented which lead to the development of the Cotehardie and very tight sleeves fitted to arms and yet very maneuverable and comfortable Because the body of the Cotehardie is fitted to the body of the wearer there was little variation in style but for the hem, collar, and especially the sleeves.

Then after the Black Death (Bubonic Plague 1347-1351) there was enormous socioeconomic upheaval which lead to the development of the Houppelande. An enormously expensive and voluminous garment, although for a long time people wore a Cotehardie under their Houppelande. But still the point was to display ones wealth in sleeves. Yes this is the birth of conspicuous consumption. Though this is a return to the garments like a fabric bag with sleeves and a hole for your head. These "bags" are very big and and like the Cotehardie the only places were there could be much variation was in the sleeves. The body was a big gathered bag, all ways a full length hem for women, For the men the hem could be any were from high on the hips to trailing on the floor, and if its not on the floor the hem could be dagged, Dagges are cut shapes in the hem of the body and often the sleeves too. And so every effort should be made to adorn your sleeves with "as much of your wealth as you can."


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2006 March 28