Indis (Part I – Kirtle)

So, Indis! Finishing Miriel recently made me look back at my original Indis design from 2015, and I happened to have about six yards of gold fabric that was begging to be used. (For anyone not in the know, Indis and Miriel are the two wives of Finwë in Tolkien’s Silmarillion.)


photo by @missionfortysix

My recent initial design for Miriel had originally been very structured, and I lost a lot of that along the way, so I decided to put that into a new Indis. I figured that I could use my Plimoth bodies pattern and alter the shape into something new, and it pretty much worked!

(I have to admit that I looked at the Tudor Tailor for about five seconds and then just went for it. This is historically inspired – very much inaccurate in techniques and materials, but it has the right silhouette and some appropriate elements. This was a fast project, and not something I intended to heavily research.)

I sketched out some alterations, made two quick canvas mockups, and then went ahead with the final. I flatlined canvas and quilting cotton (lining) and stitched the channels before laying my final fabric over the canvas and stitching that down at the sides (so the channels are not visible from the front).

The pattern that I altered is front-opening; that wasn’t going to work for my design. I didn’t want back-opening, though – I love the style, but it’s hellish to sew and fit back-lacing garments on oneself!! – so instead I went with ‘mostly historically accurate’ and made two side lacing openings. (I think a single one would have been more accurate, and more secure overall, but I wanted to allow for room in case it didn’t fit perfectly.)

I sewed in as many boning channels as I could fit for 1/4″ cable ties – the channels aren’t symmetrical, but it hardly matters when your garment is this structured & they’re not going to be visible – and left the front pretty high (and heart-shaped, on a whim) in case my bust needed containment.


I used spiral lacing, but also grommets, so…50/50 HA there.

As you can see, it ended up a bit high in front, but that was easy to cut down later. (Which I eventually did, as you can see to the left.)

For overall shape and size, this could be a tad smaller, but it is comfortable. The front came out very flat looking on me, and I’m not sure why, or whether that’s inappropriate.

I knew that to get the skirts to fall correctly, I had to level them out properly and (preferably) drape them over all the foundation garments that I planned to use – i.e., a bumroll. I didn’t take photos because it literally took me 20 minutes to make the whole thing! You can see it peeking out in photos.

I had one 3yd chunk of this fabric that I hadn’t touched, so I just went ahead and used the full rectangle. I centered it at the back, did a box pleat, and then knife pleated the rest toward the front and left a gap at center front. (Madam Butterfly here is smaller than I am.)

Once I was satisfied with the gap and the pleating, I stitched them up at the top and then worked out where the pocket slits needed to be. The skirts needed to fully attach to the bodies, so they needed to be able to split in two at my sides. I measured where the lacing was, cut about 12″ down, and turned the edges under by hand. I also added little reinforcement tack bars, because this fabric frays very easily and I don’t want the points to grow.

I also left the long hem for effect, because these fantasy costumes really call for skirt puddles and also I like to hate myself when I walk around conventions. (“WHY did this dress need a five foot train?? w h y“)

Lastly, I bound the edges in handmade gold satin bias tape and stitched the skirts to the inside. (I’ve been fighting my urge to keep scraps from projects recently, but I’d kept the satin after a commission last year and now I’m glad I did! It matches perfectly.) I machine stitched it to the fronts but then hand-stitched it down in the back – my boning ends were a little uneven and this was easier to work with.

(No bumroll on left image, sorry! Doesn’t it look great on the right one though?)

I’m honestly unsure where this design is going, but this is a pretty solid base piece. I think I’ll go for pink (I do still love the color scheme of that original outfit, and I don’t often make pink costumes)… Maybe a partlet and flowing elf sleeves!

Part II (Smock, Partlet, Petticoat)

One thought on “Indis (Part I – Kirtle)

  1. Pingback: Indis (Part II) | Sewing with Kenna

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