The Third Annual Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge

April 14 to August 14,  2013

Emma Harrington
New York, USA

Emma Harrington

I am a sometimes SCAdian and all around geek. I adore sewing and blog about it, but donít make as much human sized clothing as Iíd like. This will be my second human sized Italian Renaissance outfit, my fourth if you count doll clothing. For this challenge, I plan on making a female Florentine outfit circa 1490. This will include an embroidered cap, a camicia, a gamurra and an over-gown. If time permits, I will create drawers, an apron, pockets and possibly stockings.

Emma's Blog:

On the first week, I did mostly little things. My first order of business was to make bias tape in three different colors. Brown will edge my over-gown, black the gamurra, and the blue I turned into piping which Iíll use to trim the bodice of my over-gown. My justifications include Gozzoliís 1491 The Birth of Mary, the fact that I can stretch the gown material that much more by not including a hem allowance, and finally cause I think itís pretty. I also made a lucet string. Itís a handy little project that I can take anywhere. Currently I am working on its twin, and together they will lace my bodice.

On the first Friday I cut out a lining for the coif I heavily embroidered before April. The day after I hand stitched the lining in, and started adding little eyelet loops that I can thread a ribbon to, and use to attach the coif to my head. It looked pretty enough that Iím in the process of adding a second row to make a bit of needle lace. Iím currently on the fence about adding a third.

On the second Saturday I cut out and pinned a mock-up of the gamurra bodice and tried it on. Side lacing is a pain. However, my first gamurra is front lacing and I wanted to try something different. Optimistically speaking, I can say that this mock-up supports me very well. The fit is also decent. Though there is a huge wrinkle under my bust, Iím confident that a proper lining will mend that, and if all else fails, thereís still the over-gown to hide it.


I have been doing a lot of cutting out and pinning, but most of what I have in progress is not yet photo worthy. What I do have that I'm pleased to show is a mostly completed bodice for my gamurra. The lining of the front is made of two layers of linen machine quilted together for strength. Everything else is lined with a single layer of linen and hand stitched.

In the name of adding more handwork and creating some decoration, I'm adding a double line of chain crochet to the neckline. It's simple, subtle, and similar to a decorative technique mentioned on the Renaissance Tailor website.


I'm pleased to say that I finished my first non accessory piece. I cut out and assembled a pair of drawers. For the main fabric, I used black handkerchief linen and trimmed the hems with embroidered slips. I chose black as it's harder to stain, and I plan on having these multitask as mundane lounging pants.


The trim was a long term embroidery project whose ground is white linen that used to serve as wrist ruffs. The pattern is inspired by the top of Elenora of Toledo's burial stocking.


Pattern wise, the drawers started as two rectangles of fabric partially sewn into tubes and joined at the top. Since the leg hems are slightly larger then the slips, they are partially pleated to fit. The drawers fasten on courtesy of a drawstring ribbon that came from my stash. All seams are finished by a fell seam or bias tape.

Another piece I made is an apron. It comes from a rectangle of pre embroidered fabric from my stash that I hemmed and added ribbon ties to one end.


June/July Update

This month I present a handkerchief I was working on. It came entirely from the stash, with the linen being yet another piece of my old liene. The edges are machine hemmed, but the embroidery is done entirely by hand.

Much to my bemusement, I don't have proper citation for the motifs. They come from images of a coif auctioned by Christie's in the spring of 2010, but I forgot to record the provenance.

Each motif is done in a variety of stitches, with the circles done in stem, the straight lines back stitched, and the ends and corners highlighted with French knots.

I also have to show my finally completed gamurra. The bodice now has brass colored lacing rings up the sides and fastens shut with homemade lucet cord. It also sports a skirt. For simplicity's sake, it is made of straight panels from two widths of wool. The front of the gamurra is flat, flanked with shallow cartridge pleats. The back contains more fabric and sports deeper pleats. At the bottom of the back bodice is stitching made of upholstery thread. I needed to piece the back together, and the seam was starting to come apart from the weight of the skirt. The stitching isn't pretty, but it serves its purpose, and will be hidden by the over-gown. Finishing the gamurra is homemade bias tape of black linen binding the hem.


Coordinating with the gamurra are the sleeves. The pattern is homemade, modified from the Tudor Costume Page. The outside is made from the same wool as the gamurra, and lined in yellow linen that came from a previous gown I made. These are made with a combination of machine and hand sewing, bag lined and then whipstitched into place. Each sleeve half is ringed with homemade eyelets.

I've also started work on my over-gown.

Final Update

The first layer consists of a camicia and drawers. The camicia is entirely machine sewn from cotton harem cloth. Its construction is made of rectangles and squares, and all raw edges are flat felled or otherwise encased. The drawers are similarly made of rectangular construction and machine made. The body is made of black handkerchief linen and fastened with a ribbon drawstring. Its raw edges are bound, and is decorated with slips embroidered with black cotton floss on a white linen ground.


The middle layer is a gamurra made of a wool blend, with a bodice lined in linen. The skirt is assembled by machine and bound with a strip of homemade linen bias tape. It's attached to the bodice with cartridge pleats. While the front is flat, the sides have shallow pleats and the back has deeper ones.

The bodice has a plain lining in back and a quilted lining in front for support. It's interior seams are machine sewn, as is the quilting. By contrast, the seams are flat felled by hand and also hand hemmed. It's adorned with a double line of narrow chain crochet, and fastened up the sides with hand bound eyelets and homemade lucet cord.

Coordinating with the gamurra are a pair of two part sleeves made of the same wool and linen. They're made entirely by machine, and are laced in place with ribbon through homemade eyelets.

The top layer is an over-gown made of a golden silk-poly blend, with the bodice lined from an old sheet. Like the gamurra bodice, the top is assembled by machine and finished by hand. It's edged with homemade bias tape, with the neckline additionally trimmed with a double line of chain crochet. The skirt is entirely machine made, with a hem bound with homemade bias tape. It it attached to the bodice with cartridge pleats and fastens in place with a silvery clasp.


There are four accessories. One is a pair of pockets with a face of machine embroidery, and bound and topped with bias tape. The second piece is a hand embroidered handkerchief, and the third an apron of pre-embroidered fabric. The last piece is a cap embroidered by hand with the bottom edge decorated with needle lace. All of the accessories are assembled from stash materials.