The Second Annual

Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge

April 15 to August 15,  2012

Mandy L'Estrelle

Mandy L'Estrelle
Western Australia

I have been sewing for many years and entered the last IRCC. I have been making 16th century garb for a couple of years now.
I have recently returned to full time work and itís a bit of an adjustment to find time to get everything done.

The outfit I am working is based on this portrait. It is a portrait of Livia Barbiano, wife of Gilberto IV Santivale Count of Sala. It is listed as being from the Veronese school however this is disputed by some critics.

I have found in my stash some lovely pale blue and pale gold brocade for the sottana, which will have plain detachable sleeves.

I came across the perfect shade of light blue silk for the zimarra, which thankfully was on sale! I have so far managed to draft a new corset or imbusto which is started, and have cut out and begun a new camicia.


I have been working steadily on the under layers of my outfit. I have completed the chemise, to which I added embroidery on  the neckline and cuff. 

I also made a prototype of the partlet, however I will be remaking this as I am not at all happy with it.

I have completed an underskirt which has a roped hem to help it stay our from under my feet!

I have also nearly completed a corset, just need to finish binding the lower edge.

I took some time off under things to make and decorate a soft hat which will complement the outfit.

I have almost completed my sottana, I just need to attached the hooks and eyes for the sleeves. The sleeves ended up with very small baragoni as I thought this gives the gown a nicer look if I were to wear it on it own rather than very plain sleeves.
I have drafted the fitted bodice part of the zimarra using a blend of my bodice pattern and a pattern from Alcega, then sliced the pattern to allow for the openings shown in the painting. I was very brave and cut my beautiful blue silk and discovered I donít have nearly enough but by using the off-cuts from the sottana as part of the lining for the bodice, rather than self lining as I had hoped I should be able to just have enough to get it done. I also am short on the braid I hoped to use and canít get anymore, so have had to cut down on the amount on the zimarra. I think it will still look OK.


I am also working on a cassone. I have long wanted one of these to take to events with all my bits and pieces hidden away in it. I bought a damaged wooden box from a recycling place and have dressed it up using decorative mouldings, knobs, legs and handles. I just need to paint and line. I am hoping to get this finished this week.

Final Update

Completed Items

Camicia: I based my camicia on one featured in Pattern of Fashion. It is made from bleached calico rather than linen due to cost. It has an embroidered neckline and cuffs.

Underskirt: was made from some heavy striped damask fabric. I have hand pleated the skirt.

Corset: Pattern was developed from the Elizabethan corset generator. I have primary hand bound this.

The petticoat/gown: I have use a poly/cotton blend which I dyed to nice pale blue, the construction is fairly simple, with the bodice being stiffened with canvas and the skirt being gathered and attached. The lining is made from linen. The sleeves have been hand rolled and beaded and are detachable. The gown is based on a pattern from Alcega, although I had to change the skirt cutting to deal with the modern fabric size.

The coverciere/parlet: was made from silk organza. I chose silk to give it enough stiffness to stand as per the partlet in the inspiration portrait. The design is based on the picture and the overdress pattern taken from Algeca and seems to work quite well.

The handkerchief occurred as there was a nice square off-cut from the making of the apron and some stray lace in the vicinity.

The over dress is made from light blue silk and the skirt has been hand gathered and attached, the sleeves are mostly hand sewn and attached. The bodice has been stiffened the help the collar to stand. The pattern was based on a doublet pattern from the Alcega Tailor's book.

The hat was based upon a design from Pattern of fashion and is completely hand sewn and beaded.

The fan handle I crafted from paper clay, which I then basked in the oven to harden it. I painted it gold and attached a small gold filigree and button (with it's shank cut off) to decorate. 
I have also bound the handle with left over trim to give a better grip. I trimmed and glued in the feathers and finished their base with a string of pearls.

The cappetto: Made from cream damask and lined with faux far, the trim was too plain and I decided to hand bead it all. The cappetto was based on the Alcega doublet pattern and also one from a cape from the same book.

The brooch to hold the front of the cappetto together I hand beaded.

The Apron was based upon an extant apron that I found on the internet ( I can't find the reference now) It is made from linen and lace and was hand gathered.

The necklace was completely hand beaded, the design is as close to the one worn in the inspiration portrait as I could manage. 

The earrings are similarly hand made, I went with a simple design as I couldn't really tell what the portrait showed.

The girdle belt was more difficult, I hand bent all the pins holding the beads together, and suffered many blisters in the process!

The saccocia was hand made and was just made from some off-cuts from the gown and cappetto.

The cassone was a wooden box I rescued from a throw out. It was heavily damaged so I used my limited woodworking skills to put it back together. I have then attached the decorative beading and legs and handles, undercoated with gesso and then painted the box gold. I have lined it with black velveteen and a trim along the top inside edge. I have begun to paint my household and personal devices on the front.