Simple Renaissance Shirt




Introduction: Simple Renaissance Shirt

About: An engineer, seamstress, cook, coder, and overall maker. Spent a summer at Instructables; got a degree in E: Neural Engineering at Olin College; made a microcontroller (; now thinking about climate...

Here are some no-pattern sewing instructions for a simple Renaissance shirt. I've used this basic pattern to make shirts of various shapes and sizes as a costumer for plays. It has been so useful that I wanted to share it with you!

(Photos from this step copyright of Michael Maloney.)

Step 1: Measurements

You will need:
-Nape of neck to middle of hips (or whatever length you want the shirt to be). We'll call this "Length Measurement". [pictured]
-Bone of shoulder to wristbone. We'll call this "Sleeve Measurement". [pictured]
-Around wrist

Step 2: Materials

Note: I used 1/2" seam allowance throughout. But I'll keep calling it "Seam Allowance" so you can substitute in your own as you see fit.

Fabric yardage:
Length Measurement + Sleeve Measurement + 5* Seam Allowance + 1"
Choosing fabric width: Pick the biggest of your bust, width, and hips measurements. Add 2* Seam Allowance. Make sure your fabric width (not including selvage) is bigger than that.

Buttons (2) for wrist cuffs


Step 3: Cut

Note: I used 1/2" seam allowance throughout. But I'll keep calling it "Seam Allowance" so you can substitute in your own as you see fit.

We will be cutting out:
  • front panel
  • back panel
  • 2 sleeves
  • collar
  • 2 wrist cuffs
  • 2 wrist cuff button loops

Fold fabric in half, selvages to selvages (lengthwise).
Then fold in half lengthwise again.

Cut out the front and back panels:
  • From end of fabric, measure down Length Measurement + 3*Seam Allowance
  • From the folded edge (no raw edges/selvage), measure across: 1/4 Bust + Seam Allowance; 1/4 Waist + Seam Allowance; 1/4 Hips + Seam Allowance. Note: You probably want to make these a bit bigger, actually- particularly the waist. If you make it too fitted, you won't be able to put it on!
  • Pencil draw a profile to fit to/bigger than the minimum measurements you've drawn for bust/waist/hips. You know what, just skip the waist measurement. Or make everything a lot too big. You can always cut it smaller later- but if you can't fit into it, that's a problem.
  • Cut along the lines.

Keep the fabric all folded up lengthwise.

Cut out the sleeves and collar:
  • Cut off any bits left over from the front/back panels so that the end of the fabric is straight across.
  • From (new) end of fabric, measure Sleeve Length + 2*Seam Allowance + 1"
  • Cut all the way across at this measurement.
  • At selvage side, measure up 1 1/2" all the way along the sleeve length.
  • Cut along this new measurement. Now you have your two sleeves.
  • Discard selvages.
  • From the folded fabric scrap, cut ~16" (+ 2 Seam Allowance) length to form a 3"x16" (+ 2 Seam Allowance) rectangle. This will be your collar.
Cut out the wrist cuffs and button loops:
  • From the fabric scraps, salvage:
  • Two 3" x Wrist Measurement (+ 2 Seam Allowance) rectangles. These will be your cuffs.
  • Two 3" x 1" rectangles. These will be your wrist cuff button loops.
Now you have everything you need- and almost no leftover fabric!

Step 4: Collar and Cuffs

Note: You may wish to insert a step here, if your fabric is particularly prone to raveling. Zigzag stitch right on the edge of every piece to create a finished edge. Might make your life easier.

We will be pre-sewing and ironing the fiddly bits (collar, cuffs, button loops) to make them easier to sew on later.

Fold 1/4" of fabric up (wrong side to wrong side) on the long sides. Iron.
Fold in half lengthwise, with the ironed bits on the outside (right side to right side).
Sew on short edges, closing the ends.
Turn right side out. Iron flat.

Cuff Button Loops:
Fold in half lengthwise (wrong side to wrong side). Iron.
Fold raw edges to the inside. Iron again.
Sew lengthwise down the middle.

Fold 1/4" of fabric up (wrong side to wrong side) on the long sides and on one of the short sides. Iron.
Fold in half lengthwise, with the ironed bits on the outside (right side to right side).
Sew the non-ironed edge.
Turn right side out. Iron flat.
Fold cuff button loop in half as shown. Insert into center of ironed short side. Sew.
Note: When inserting the button loops into the cuffs, be sure they are sized to fit over the buttons you'll be using (but aren't so big that they will slip off).

Now you have a collar and cuffs!

Step 5: Basic Construction

Side Seams
Sew the front panel to the back panel (right sides together) starting at the hips and ending just after it becomes maximally wide for the bust.

Shoulder Seams
Measure the top flaps where your neckline will go. Use that measurement to divide your top flaps into thirds.
Sew* the outside thirds, leaving the middle third open as a hole for your head.
*Sew these at 1/2 your normal seam allowance.

Fold in half lengthwise, right sides together.
Sew, leaving 3" unsewn at the end.

Step 6: Finishing Touches in the Middle

Now we have a couple more fussy things to do.

Sleeve Finishings
Go to the 3" bit at the end of your sleeves that you left unsewn. We are going to give this bit a nice double-rolled edge.
Fold it over the amount of your seam allowance on the wrong side of the fabric. Iron.
Fold the raw edge inside of your previous fold, hiding it. Iron again.

Go to the bottom edge of your torso piece, the part that will go around your hips.
Fold it up 1 Seam Allowance (rolling to the wrong side of the shirt). Iron.
Fold it up the same amount again. Iron again.

Step 7: Neckline

Now we'll make the neckline.
  1. Fold your shirt in half to find the middle.
  2. Decide which panel is the front. Now cut straight down the fold you made in the previous step for, say, five inches.
  3. Try it on. How do you like that? Cut the neckline to your desired depth. Change the shape, if you'd like. Just keep it folded while you're cutting so that it's symmetrical.
  4. Make a double-rolled edge to finish the freshly cut portion like we did on the sleeves.
You may also wish to cut your back-of-neckline.

Step 8: Gathering Stitches

Sew gather stitches around the entirety of both ends of both sleeves.

Step 9: Fit Sleeves to Shirt

Turn sleeves right side out.
Insert sleeves into armholes in inside-out shirt.
Pin seam of sleeve to top of side seam and center of sleeve to shoulder seam.
Adjust gathers until sleeve lines up.

Step 10: Add Cuffs

Gather the ends of the sleeves until they fit into the cuffs you've made. Sew.

Step 11: Add Collar

Line up the center back of your neckline with the center of your collar. Insert the raw neckline into the collar. Sew from the middle to the ends.

Step 12: Sew on Buttons

Hand-sew on buttons to fit into the button loops at the cuffs.

Step 13: Decorate, If Desired

I made a lot of these for various Shakespeare plays. Since many of the characters were wearing this exact shirt, I did a couple of things to distinguish between them:
-Collar style
-Collar embroidery
-Cuff embroidery
-Cuff buttons
-Front embroidery

Have fun with it!

(Photos from this step copyright of Michael Maloney.)

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10 Discussions


6 years ago on Introduction

Hello, can you tell me what kind of fabric you used for the above shirts? I'm new to sewing and still learning the basics. Thank you!


Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

These were linen, I think– but it's not super comfortable and it ravels pretty badly when you're trying to sew it. Soft cotton is better (though pro tip: make sure it's not see-through thin before you buy). You can always ask a fabric store clerk for recommendations!

Good luck, and send photos!

I turned a basic version of this shirt out over last night and today in just a few hours and I have to say that it's a fantastic pattern that is so easy to make and looks so good. My friend wore his to the Maryland Renaissance Festival today and he was thrilled! It's not perfect but it did the job and everyone was impressed that I had made it. I was a bit confused about where along the length to place the bust, waist, and hip measurement at first but figured it out!! Thanks for sharing a great instructable!!


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

Glad you liked it!
Yeah, the profile is definitely the hardest part. It's easiest if you/your friend lays down on the fabric so you can get an idea of proportions.
Pics, please?


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

Sorry Selkey that it's taken me a bit to get back, but here is a pic of him in his shirt. I made the tights quickly too but the shirt definitely got all the attention! Thanks again for a great instructable!


8 years ago on Introduction

In the introduction image, swap out the rapier for a lightsabre, and you have a perfect "Young Luke Skywalker" costume!

Nostalgic Guy
Nostalgic Guy

Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

You are spot on there Kiteman, when I first saw the picture I thought it was a Star Wars costume :-)


Reply 8 years ago on Introduction


"I've used this basic pattern to make shirts of various shapes and sizes as a costumer for plays"

Multi-purpose, and multi-genre! Now you have a few more uses to consider...intentional or not, this is great - many kudos SelkeyMoonbeam.