The Second Annual

Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge

April 15 to August 15,  2012

Paige Mattern

Paige Mattern
Nevada, USA

I would not consider myself a novice although I have only made two "Italian" front lacing outfits. I have made many "Renaissance" style outfits. I have been making costumes for 20+ years, but only in the last 5 years I have really become more selective and attempted more authentic looking garments.

Project: I plan on making an outfit roughly based on the 'Pisa Dress'. I plan a back side lacing bodice, underskirt and overskirt, sleeves, partlet and a camicia. I hope to have some hand sewn beads as extras and a hat of some sort.

My Blog:

I have just started my IRCC gown. Here are two images of my inspirations.

I will be using a deep red silk from my fabric stash, and an embroidered red silk as my trim. I plan on cutting it into strips and using it as trim for the main portion of the gown. We will see how far 2 yards will stretch.

I have drafted my bodice, side back lacing, cut out the bodice and sleeves.

I also have cut out the skirt and lining and started adding felt for the pleating.

I plan on making a linen camicia, an underskirt (no fabric picked out yet) and a balzo hat. If time allows I will also attempt to construct a girdle and a feather fan. It gets pretty warm here and most Faires are in the 90's. I have quite a busy schedule this year, I work 40 hrs a week, grandbaby 8 due July 1st, last weekend was the San Jose Fantasy Faire, May 5th and 6th is the Renaissance Symposium, a learning weekend, first 2 weekends of June is the Valhalla Renaissance faire at Lake Tahoe, and of course Costume College the first week of August. Thank goodness for holidays and a very supportive husband, he will be spending some alone time while I work in the shop getting this done.

I was able to work on my gown this weekend. I have re-done the skirt in to the waistband after removing 1 yard of fabric. I have had trouble drafting the bodice as I thought the gown was side back lacing. After looking at it again it is side lacing.

So I remade my pattern and this is my lining.

I used lightweight boning as I am going to wear a corset under the gown.

The bodice...

...and trim being placed on it. Still a work in progress, will be working on it at faire this weekend.

I completed my camicia this weekend.

I have also been working on the sleeves, still need to finish them and attach to bodice. I plan to finishing adding trim the bodice while sitting in the hospital with my daughter, she is expecting a baby any day now. I also started working on my accessory piece, waiting on the glue to dry.

Well I have been sewing, and crafting like crazy. I expect to get more done later this week as daughter is schedule for a C-section on Monday.

I started working on a zibellino: clay face is sculpted and baked. I have never clay sculpted before so this is the first attempt. I have been picking out different jewelry pieces to attach for decoration.

I have also been working on a feather fan....


.....and a girdle to hang the zibellino from.


I have finished the bodice, trim sewn on by hand, sleeves completed, panels attached with beads and jewelry findings. I used a close up picture of the Red Pisa dress to complete the sleeve tops. I still need to draft and complete a hat of sorts.


Final Update

Wow that was a lot of work, this is my first time entering a contest like this. I am more motivated than ever, just don't know what to start first.

Here is a list of everything I made for this competition.


1. Drawers/bloomers, may not be exactly period but needed at faire.

2. Corded petticoat.

3. Underskirt with gold trim.

4. Embroidered camicia and 5. Gold trimmed partlet.


6. Main dress, overskirt and bodice.

7. Open surcote.


8. Balzo.

9. Hand beaded girdle.

10. Zibillino/flea fur with gold head.

11. Hand painted umbrella.


12. Feather fan.
13. Embroidered pouch.
14. Embroidered cup cover with lace trim and beaded corner weight.

So I am not big on hand crafts, I have 2 left hands so I like to use my machine. I did sew most of the trim on by hand, all trim on the bodice was sewn on by hand. The balzo was drafted by me and hand sewn, the umbrella was painted by hand and design was done free hand.

To make this gown I used all material from my stash, the only purchases made were Sculpey clay and a can of spray paint, used as a base coat for the clay head. I drafted the gown, surcote, petticoat, and underskirt myself, I used a pattern for the camicia.

I hope to be able to do this again, only next time I won't try to work on two gowns at the same time. I did complete both gowns in the time frames needed, and next years Costume College Gala gown is already picked out, just needed a couple of weeks off, my husband needs new faire garb for October.

Thanks for all the support and good luck to all