L is for Leather aka: The Medieval Times Dress

L collage cropped watermarked

For my 12th Sew All 26 160 post, the letter “L”, I’m sewing with leather, something I’ve never tried before. Simplicity 2584 (designed by Cynthia Rowley) had been in my pattern stash for awhile – long enough that it’s now out of print. 2584 includes 2 dress styles, 2 tunic styles, and a headband. I decided to sew the view B dress, mainly because I thought I could use a free to me thrift store leather skirt for the ornately shaped yoke. Style B is the dress shown on the model on the pattern cover. It’s hemmed above-the-knee and has 3/4 length sleeves.

A Simplicity size 14 exactly matches my bust, waist and hip measurements. BUT, having previous experience with the Big 4 sizing in comparison to the finished product, I made a size 12 instead. Luckily! A 14 would have been way too large on me.

Besides cutting one size smaller I also made quite a few changes to the pattern. First, I did a small bust adjustment (using an easy tutorial found here). Then I took in the side seams from just below the armholes down to the high hip, curving in a bit more than 1/2″ at the waistline. This narrowed the waist overall by more than 2 inches.

I didn’t care for the elastic in the 3/4 length sleeves. I couldn’t seem to get the right balance between completely cutting off the circulation in my forearms or having the elastic way too loose. Perhaps this was because my fabric was heavier than normal dress cotton – it’s actually a Home Dec fabric. So I ended up removing the elastic and drafting a decorative leather cuff for the bottom of the sleeve, using the front yoke pattern piece as the basis for my cuff template. But after backing and turning the leather cuff trim I didn’t care for the look. So I scrapped that idea and just hemmed the sleeves instead. I wanted to machine topstitch the yoke leather since I dislike hand sewing. But after many attempts with my sewing machine I ended up topstitching the yoke by hand. Yuck! I hate hand stitching – it takes forever!

The result? If I’m ever invited to the Renaissance Faire I’ve got the perfect dress to wear.

Do these look familiar? Medieval Times GarbThey’re examples of medieval clothing I pulled from the internet, and they are eerily similar to the dress I made:(

Sadly, I’m not a fan of Medieval Festivals and that’s the only place I can think of where my version of Simplicity 2584 might look appropriate. I attended a Renaissance Faire once 30 years ago and the phrase “Would ye like another turkey leg?” has been stuck in my brain ever since.

Sometimes sewing with $2.00 thrift store home dec fabric and a free stained leather skirt just doesn’t turn out the same in real life as it does in theory. Oh well, our blog promised you our failures as well as our triumphs. Here’s my $3.97 fail. Misery loves company, so please feel free to share your most spectacular sewing failures in the comments!


  1. I made a pair of trousers with fabric of ‘unknown’ content. When I wore them they had an awful smell that I didn’t notice when sewing. Into the trash!


  2. You actually look good in the dress. To me, it does not appear to be a failure.
    One time I had a problem topstitching a leather piece on fabric, and had problems. In spite of using a leather needle, and every other type of needle I had. It just did not work. I still have not figured out why. O, well.


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