The Second Annual

Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge

April 15 to August 15,  2012

Victoria Black

Victoria Black
Queensland, Australia

I've now been playing in the SCA for about fifteen months and completed the IRCC in 2011,so its about the time that I start to look at making a new Italian frock (although, really, who needs an excuse?). After spending the past week at Rowany Festival, I'm very much inspired to try my hand at a bit more embroidery and handwork over the next few months. I still consider myself a sewing novice, since I only started last year (when I was told that you cant just go and buy renaissance frocks, you actually need to make them) but I'm quite acquainted with Italians now and particularly Venetians.

Four layer outfit: front lacing corset (my current one laces up the back which is not ideal for dressing yourself at camping events), petticoat, over-gown, flag fan , and if I get time some shoulder ruffs and perhaps a new camicia (I don't know where mine go. I suspect there's a very well-dressed ghost out there somewhere).

I'm making very very slow progress so far...mostly because I'm very indecisive (as evidenced by my entry last year) but I think I might have finally decided on what I'm making! I'm basing my dress on the 1495 drawing of a Venetian woman by Albrecht Durer, because its an image that I always see popping up whenever I look at Venetians, and its a lot earlier period and a completely different shape than other Venetian dresses that I've made, so it might be nice to have something different. 

Obviously its a black and white drawing, so I've decided to make it in the varying shades of a peacock feather; a very teal for the gown, blue silk for the underskirt, gold trimmings on both the dress and the chemise and an emerald green with purple embroidery for the lower sleeves. The only problem is that I only have five metres of the teal Thai silk since it was a gift last year, and I'm not brave enough to cut it up yet, and I'm very worried that it wont be enough (I'm not a very careful cutter when it comes to following a pattern, so being stringent on the wastage is a bit of a challenge, haha!) 

So far I have been working on the embroidery for the sleeves, which is definitely not my forte and is taking a very long time! In other news, I realised that this frock doesn't need any shoulder ruffs! So I'm now rethinking my accessory layer. I've always wanted to make chopines, so I may have to have a go at making some I think!

Very slow going on the gown so far, mostly bodice patterning and then re patterning...and then re-patterning again because originally I had done it over my corset and then realized (duh!) that I wasn't going to be wearing my corset with it and would need to have some structure in the bodice. 
You can see I've chosen all of my colours/fabric trim now so 'yay' for being decisive! (you can also see a bit in the picture of the embroidery I've been trying. The picture is an eagle so I'll have to send you a better image when it's all done!) still working on the embroidery for the chemise though and I imagine I will be for years to come! 

So all up, progress is happening, but slowly (mostly because I spent last week making a coat for a friend for great northern war which is next weekend and had to take precedence)...bodice is sewn up and boned, ready to be trimmed and have beads put on, then it will be time for the skirt, and chemise is still underway.


I've finished my gown now, having attached the silk skirt today (it's knife pleated on and obviously the gown is side back lacing). Not too sure if I'm liking the gold trim at the top and the bottom, but pulling it off might be a job for another day. It looks fine from far away but up close I'm worried it might be a little gaudy.

I've also finished a little green flat hat with a little cluster of peacock feathers on the side and attached gold beads (same as on the bodice) to the snood. 


Still working on my embroidery and my chopines, but I'm not sure if they'll be finished in time...I may have carved away a little bit too much cork and now one is smaller than the other. :( And that's where I'm at with a month to go! The whole moving from Brisbane/St Florian to Canberra/Politarchopolis thing has taken up a lot of time but I'm looking forward to getting my last few layers done!

Final Update

Non completed items: 
Camicia....why oh why can I never get these finished? Haha! I decided to be a bit crazy and embroider the sleeves...but I couldn't find a pattern I liked. So I ended up embroidering the lyrics to Holding Out For a Hero and Girls just Wanna Have Fun, in Latin, down the sleeves (I kinda figured that hardly anyone is ever going to see my Camicia sleeves, so why not be a bit fun?). Embroidery is completely finished (and oh my god I'm so much neater now than when I started) but I just didn't get time to put the entire thing together. It's just split stitch and looks quite neat and I'm looking forward to people asking me what the Latin means!!

Giornea: I have all the pieces cut out, but decided that I needed to embroider a peacock onto the back to tie the entire outfit together, but I just haven't had time to finish it, so this is an ongoing item. I'm attaching a pic of my embroidery so far - I don't actually know how I'm going to embroider the big feathers on- maybe I'll cheat and stick on real feathers instead.

Chopines: yeah....they're half done. I stuffed up and took a massive chunk out of one of the pieces of cork so they kept getting lower and lower and lower as I tried to match the height. Might have to wait until I have more cash to get some more materials.

Completed items:
One 1490s gown (cotton sateen and silk) with green velveteen sleeves and purple embroidered cuffs (eventually I'm going to make paned sleeves too)

One green underskirt (Cotton. It's a skirt. Not much to say.)

Hat and snood.

Feather fan - very last minute construction when I had forgotten about my hat and thought I needed an accessory. It involved ply-board, feathers and hot glue...that's pretty much it. 

One beaded cloak - green with purple and white pearl beads. Made because I now live in a cold climate and really, who can ever have too many cloaks? It's obviously beaded by hand and is a cloak...