The Medieval Tailor The Medieval Tailor

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Clothing Weekends with Sarah Thursfield in 2020
Shirts and Shifts
From Iron Age to Steam Age

Sketches of the types of shirts that will be demonstrated

The long history of seamstress-work: cutting out without patterns and hand sewing for durability (and beauty). Bring your own fabric and start a garment, or make a sampler of the essenstial methods. All skill levels welcome.

Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 January 2020

Price: £70 per person.

Tuition and materials only, lunch not included, accommodation available nearby (ask about discounts).

Courses take place in Llanymynech on the Shropshire-Welsh border between Oswestry and Welshpool.

Contact me to book a place or for more details: Highmoor Llanymynech SY22 6HB phone 01691 839286

I can help you get into the clothes

You want your kirtle to fit?

You want your kirtle to fit?

TEACHING is becoming the most important part of my work. Whether it's the history you want, or the basic sewing skills, they're both part of getting into the clothes.

It's difficult to sum up what a typical class includes, because the historical and practical sides are tangled up together. You set the syllabus, but we normally discuss all these:

  • What's the real evidence? How to disentangle historical fact from modern myth and inaccurate authors. And why church monuments, archaeological finds, dictionary definitions and old teaching handbooks all hold clues.

  • What were the fabrics like? Modern equivalents can be found for most period textiles, but you have to know what you're looking for. If you've never thought about cloth before, it's time to start.

  • What went with what, and who wouldn't have worn it? To get beyond ‘period costume’ you need to know how the clothes worked for real people.

  • How do we get the pattern shape? Why is this so important, and how did it alter over the centuries?

  • How were different garments made, and how far can you compromise now? Sometimes it helps to think away from the sewing machine.

Mantua-makers did things their own way

Mantua-makers did things their own way

There are no minimum requirements.

If you've never threaded a needle before, or cut out a garment, or made a hem, we'll start where you are.

There's no snobbery about ‘authenticity’.

If you're dressing a village pageant, you can look OK without hand-sewn linen underwear; and if you claim to be historically accurate, you'll find out that how you wear it may be more important than how you sew it.

Finishing touches, for the obsessive

Finishing touches, for the obsessive

You'll teach me things I don't know

You'll teach me things I don't know about your exact period or character — and I can direct you to specialist sources, through Textile History or MEDATS or the Costume Society or NESAT.

Weekend Courses

See above for the plans for this year, or browse through 'Past Courses' below to see what else I can offer. I’m happy to teach these as a tutor at your venue whether it’s a museum or a craft college.

I can teach staff and volunteers at heritage sites

This is ideal and cost-effective whether you need clothing for display, for staff or for visiting school groups. For the price of a couple of ready-made outfits I can supply the patterns and know-how, together with up-to-date information on specialist suppliers, for you to make your clothing in-house.

Recent work includes showing National Trust volunteers how to make Edwardian corsets and longbowmen from Church Stretton how to make doublets, as well as demonstrating medieval clothing to an Educational Support Unit in Tamworth as part of a history project with excluded youngsters.

It costs £120 per day plus travel (and free membership of the Society for the Abolition of the Mob-cap).

Never underestimate the craft of the seamstress

Never underestimate the craft of the seamstress

I can teach your group or society

at your venue: anywhere with enough light, space and tables for the numbers. Starting from the ‘Getting into the clothes’ programme below, I can adapt it for your exact period and approach — the basics of garments, the evidence, materials, and how to make it.

It costs £250 plus travel for a weekend, or £200 for two days midweek.

If you fancy a group holiday, why not ask about hiring my local village hall for cheap ‘brick camping’ as well as daytime teaching? I'll charge less, because I don't have to travel; and the many castles of the Marches will amuse those who don't want to spend their time sewing.

You can come to me

There's room for one or two visitors in my workshop on the Welsh/Shropshire border. I can fit your toile, and draw your patterns while you raid my bookshelves. You can make your own garments under my guidance, or learn new stitches and methods. Some people make an annual trip to update their wardrobes!

It costs £10 an hour: £30 for half a day gets you a personal block pattern.

Camping or B&B accommodation is available close by.

Find out how the deep armhole really works

Find out how the deep armhole really works

Past Courses

Any of these can be adapted to suit your particular needs, or I can prepare a programme for you.

What's it called, how do you make it, and how does it stay on?

What's it called, how do you make it, and how does it stay on?

  • Getting Into the Clothes

    The essential introduction, available for any specified period. Reliable sources of information — how to sort truth from myth. Materials and suppliers — a hands-on session with fabric samples. What they really wore — garment-by-garment account of ordinary civilian dress. How to recreate it — for the level of detail needed for your group or activity.

    This forms the basis of most re-enactment group sessions — you'll be surprised at how much there is to learn!

  • Perfect Linens

    A celebration of the seamstress' craft. The authentic cut and hand construction of shirts and smocks, from Saxon to Victorian. Selecting good materials, planning and cutting garment shapes, the essential stitches, and decorative work.

    This goes down well with the Embroiderers' Guild too.

  • Early Medieval Tunics

    From the Saxon era until well into the fourteenth century the tailor cut out all the varieties of tunic shapes by proportional division of the cloth, without the use of a pattern. Here's how it's done.

  • From Body to Block

    Fit a toile, draw your basic block, and plan a sleeve — and learn from each other about different figure types. For fitted garments from 1340 onwards.

  • All About Hose

    History, materials, fitting and making: separate and joined hose, and the Tudor transition to breeches. From Norman to 1600.

    Fitting joined hose is not for the faint-hearted

    Fitting joined hose is not for the faint-hearted

  • Doublets in Detail

    The most misunderstood garment in the medieval re-enactor's wardrobe. Learn what the doublet really was, and how to make it work.

  • Women's Medieval Headwear

    What English women really wore on their heads: Linens, nets, hoods and fancy things — their history and construction. 1000 AD to 1500.

  • Small Details

    Aprons, purses and pouches, gloves, belts, luggage…the things that make all the difference.

Link to information about Sarah's book,
									     'The Medieval Tailors Assistant.'

Buy the Medieval Tailor's Assistant

These images were copied by Sarah from original sources.

These images were copied by Sarah from original sources and are an important part of her research into medieval garments.

Here's what I do:



About Sarah






Satisfied customers — members of the living history group from King Edward VI Schools

Satisfied customers — members of the living history group from King Edward VI Schools