Houppelande tutorial -part 1


Since I made my first houppelande (late medieval overdress) some years ago, I have been thinking about putting together a tutorial for you, to make it easier to understand the construction techniques behind the dress.

As it turned out, the houppelande dress is a bigger project than I thought at the beginning, so I’m doing the tutorials in different parts so it will be easier for you to find the model you are most interested in, and to get a nice overview of the whole dress style.

I start with my first woollen houppelande:


This was somewhat of an experiment trying out both pattern and what it would look like finished. I could not find my original sketch for the pattern layout, but it did look something like this:


Some notes; this type of pattern layout work well in a tabby weave since it doesn’t matter if you turn your front and back pieces, but you can also use an even sided twill like I did. If doing this type of pattern on a patterned fabric, you can have the pattern one way on the front pieces and the opposite on the back pieces, which work really well I think, if you want to save on the fabric.

The amount of fabric needed for this layout, in size small, is 150 cm * 280 cm (I used 3 meters of fabric, so I had a slightly larger hem.

F=front, B=back and FM= front middle gore. S1 and S2 are the sleeves. I always recommend drawing out your pattern before you do it on your fabric, it gives you the opportunity to see if all the pieces have room and if you can add some extra circumference to the skirt. I also use to draw out how the garment will look finished, to give you an extra idea of the result. The small cut out pattern piece I use to draw the pieces faster by drawing around it on the paper.

medeltid 004

This is what it looked like once I had cut out all the pieces. After cutting, baste your pieces together to try them on, or sew them at once. I used running stitches and back stitches for parts where there was more stress on the seams (like around the body, the armholes, and the top of the front gore). I also pressed the seam allowances down and whip stitched them. You can of course sew your dress on a sewing machine if you would like, just be sure to pin or baste the skirt lengths first so they don’t stretch uneven.


Always pin or baste your pieces together when they lay flat on a surface. After this is done, you can have the garment in your knee, sitting comfy on the sofa and sewing without having the seams getting all uneven. I started with the front gore, then sew the front and back pieces together. The sleeves were made after the “fitted sleeve” tutorial.

The hem is folded twice and whip stitched down, and the sleeves and front opening is lined with soft, cut sheepskin in a matching colour.

The dress is sold since some time back, and I moved on to make another kind of pattern construction (as I usually do). I liked this one because of its simplicity, it was very comfortable and not bulky around the upper body. Another pro was that it didn’t take a lot of fabric to make it. I really liked the fluffy lining since it gave a lot of extra warmth.


The style is somewhat unusual in art but can be seen at the start of the houppelande period in some regions, though with a tighter upper body, the sleeves were full length and often somewhat tighter. For paintings and art inspiration, check out my Pinterest board about Houppelande dresses

What I didn’t like was that I dragged the hem of the dress after me everywhere, without getting the comfort of a warm and thick enough fabric to protect me from rain and chilly winds. So the next one became a bit sturdier in fabric, and with more fabric…

Author: Linda at Handcrafted History

I am Linda, running the blog and business Handcrafted History and living in the middle of Sweden

5 thoughts on “Houppelande tutorial -part 1

  1. I was musing about whether I should include such a garment in my character kit. Am now very tempted to make one.

  2. Oh, they are awesome! I think they will return to fashion (reenactor style of course) over the next few years =) I’m actually planning to try out a new model…

  3. What about undergarments described as tight, for shape and support of breasts! That sounds like compression so are they just laced stays, or something more elaborate? So how do we make them? Do they use stitching or layers or simply straw or other vegetable matter, and since they need to be heavy duty, do we use layers of lined canvas or what? Do they rest on hip bone for support?

    • Hi! Thank you for your questions =) the answer can be quite extensive, but a short summary is that tabby woven linen is an excellent material, and a shift/chemise/undergarment in linen is enough. There are finds (Lengberg) of a shift with breast support with shaped cups, and art suggests that shifts with side lacing was used, as well as sleeveless shifts with thin shoulderstraps and a shaped bust area. If you want to check out some art, I have a folder on my pinterest; https://www.pinterest.se/handcraftedhist/medieval-underwear/

  4. Vad behöver jag ändra för att göra en houppelande för en man?

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