The Second Annual

Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge

April 15 to August 15,  2012

Tia Dixon

Tia Dixon
Pennsylvania, USA

I have been interested in Historical Costuming since joining a Civil War Re-enactment group in 1998. Since then the passion for period correct garb was fuelled when I joined the SCA in 2005. In 2006 I was also lucky enough to be the December Showcase for Realms of Venus. This is about my 4th Italian inspired ensemble, but this will be my first attempt at Male Italian Garb, time period will be 1540 – 1560.

The Outfit: Italian garb for an Infant; My Son will be approximately 6 months old when the challenge is completed, just in time for Fall Crown here in Aethelmearc & for his first trip to Renn Faire!

Layer 1 – Shirt complete with Tatted Lace and black work, possibly a set of braies.
Layer 2 – Doublet & Slops
Layer 3 – Cloak
Layer 4 - Hat
My Blog: 

This past year I was unexpectedly blessed with a Pregnancy that I was told would not/ could not happen. March 1st I gave birth to a wonderful little boy Keith Thomas. He is my inspiration to dust off my sewing skills and start costuming again. My plan is to create infant garb based mainly on two portraits by Agnolo Bronzino for the Medici Family.

Giovanni de Medici

Don Garcia de Medici

While little boys typically would be kept in skirts for ease of diapering, these portraits seem to indicate that some boys were moved in to breeches fairly young, I am guessing by at least one year of age. 

Here is another Portrait, this one by Bernardino Licinio. 

These two boys are in what many call "Punkin" pants, I am considering an easier construction approach and opting for Venetian Slops, smoother and tapered to below the knee.

For Materials I went "Shopping" in my stash and came up with a color palette of Fawn/Brown & Green.

The following are my initial ideas for each of the layers needed for the Competition; therefore they are subject to change :)

Trim prototype

Fabric: White Linen/cotton blend fabric. 
Treatment: White work on collar and cuffs, tatted trim w/ pearls.
Pattern Inspiration/technique: 
Janet Arnold – Patterns of Fashion 4 1540-1660 

These may not get done, as an underwear layer they are not required since I am doing the Shirt
Fabric: Same fabric as shirt
Pattern Inspiration/technique: #6 of the Pants section

Fabric: Brown Velvet and Brown with Vines Brocade
Treatment: Green and Gold Trim, Silk Piping, Passamenterie Buttons

Fabric: Brown Velvet and Brown with Vines Brocade
Treatment: Green and Gold Trim, Silk Piping, Passamenterie Buttons
Pattern Inspiration/technique: Janet Arnold – Patterns of Fashion 1560-1620 pttn. 21 a
pair of Venetians

Fabric: Dark Brown wool, Fur trimmed.
Treatment: Couched Braid decoration
Pattern Inspiration/technique: Janet Arnold – Patterns of Fashion1560-1620 pttn. 31 & 33 Semi Circular cloaks

Fabric: Dark Brown wool, silk lined
Treatment: Green and gold trim for hat band

Pacifier Necklace

The Shirt

To start the ensemble I decided to work on the shirt first. I acquired a copy of Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion 4 which covers in detail smocks, shirts, and other accessories 1540-1660.

For the open collar I will be basing my pattern off of the collar of the shirt worn by one of the Sture family on the night they were killed. It falls open nicely and will show off the tatting to be attached to the ruff.

I designed the embroidery pattern for the shirt: a little less than 3x3 pomegranate to be embroidered in green and red. This pattern is loosely based on an extant example found in POF (pg 69 1585-1620 shirt-under arm gusset).

Here is a photo of the finished prototype. I was intrigued by the description of the open worked seams on many of the little boys shirts showcased in POF4, but I have come to the conclusion my hand stitching sucks, so to save time and frustration I will still be machine stitching the main seams. Hand finishing will go in to the embroidery and smaller details like a worked buttonhole bar at the bottom of the neck opening.

I have all the pieces for the “Good” Shirt cut, now just to place the embroidery motifs get those done and then assemble it.


The Devil is in the details they say. The details I chose were passamenterie or thread-worked buttons. I chose a simple basket weave over a small wooden base; each one is capped with a bronzy gold bead.

Tatting for the collar and possibly the cuffs. This pattern can be found in 'Tatting with Anne Orr', or some may know it as “That big blue book”. I have made this pattern a variation by omitting some of the picots and adding small glass beads.

This is the half-way point! I still need to complete:

Shirt – this is cut needs embroidered and assembled
Venetians – needs cut, have pattern drafted
Doublet – Needs pattern drafted and cut.
Cape – needs cut already have pattern.
Hat – needs cut.

Doublet and Venetians 

My patterns for both the doublet and Venetians are based on using a body block created by his current clothing. I found a tutorial on this process and found using it quite helpful. I then took each pattern and compared it to various ones in Patterns of Fashion to adjust the look & fit.

I decided to make a mock-up of each piece. For the doublet I used a piece of linen/wool that I hope to use as a second doublet and adjusted pattern as needed. Once cut out it was fairly easy to assemble.

The Venetians I did the same thing with. I cut them out of a cotton velveteen that I hope I can use for a second pair. It’s always good to have a back up pair of pants for Keith if we are going to be away from home for more than 4 hours.

And here are the prototypes all together….I must say I think this will look very good once they are all done.

Keith went to his 4 month Dr apt this past Friday, he is now 15 lbs & 26.5 inches long! He is rolling, and we have started on solid foods, so far likes peaches, apple sauce & Hobo Beans.

At his first fitting I found I need to add about 2 inches to the doublet to get it to fit over his little tummy. The Venetians I need to take about an inch & ˝ off the legs to get them at knee length. For the shirt I need to move the button bar down closer to the bottom of the neck slit, it is a little snug to get over his head yet.

The Doublet

And on to finishing the good doublet, the fabric I chose for this is very nice heavy brocade. It has a wonderful drape and has worked up like a dream. Since it is so heavy I forwent the padding you usually see in the front of a doublet and just lined it with a light cotton broad cloth. The epaulets and peplum are piped in an olive and taupe lip cord. The thread worked buttons are attached and the button holes done by hand.

Cape and Hat

The fabric for both of these is a dark brown pants weight wool, there is a slight herring bone pattern to it but its not obvious unless you are in just the right light.

Both are trimmed out in a dark green and gold wire worked gimp. The cape is done in a half circle and trimmed to mimic the pattern used on the fools cape as photographed in POF2. I lined the cape is a very soft blue chamois cotton flannel, this has been in my stash since my teens I figured its about time I use it for something!



Final Update

Shirt: cut and assembled, embroidery is the only hand done part of it. To save time I attached hook and eyes at the neck hole and on the cuffs. I ran out of time to do eyelet holes by hand. Ran out of time on the tatting for the collar too, I need about 5 more inches tatted. Hopefully I will get this done by the time we go to fair.


Doublet: the buttons are completed and attached. I did not get the button holes done by hand, well I got one done and it did not turn out as neatly as I expected, so I will finish the rest with the machine.

Venetian breeches: these actually turned out quite nicely once I got the fasteners put on. They fit great and have a nice bit of room in the seat for diaper bulge.

Cloak, I am well pleased with this piece as well. The trim went on smoothly, and the heart shaped clasp works well.

The hat: can we just say its adorable? And Keith actually will let it on his head for up to 15 minutes before it gets tossed on the floor.