The Third Annual Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge

April 14 to August 14,  2013

Maija-Leena Autio

Maija-Leena Autio

After thinking long and hard I decided to challenge myself. I have made thus far 14th century outfits, mostly sewn by hand. This will be my first Renaissance female garb, thought I just finished a Renaissance shirt and trousers for a male friend.

I am planning to make: a camicia, an underskirt, an over-dress, a partlet, a pouch.

Here is my blog. It is more about Medieval than Renaissance this far, and I have not yet written about IRCC3, just mentioned it, but I think I will. Texts are usually at first in Finnish and then in English with cursive. 

Week 1

I started with a camicia and used a pattern from Patterns of Fashion 4 by Janet Arnold (a piece number 71 from page 54) and adjusted it a little. In the photo you can see pieces cut from white linen in their planned places. I started to hem them with pink silken thread. There are embroidery and bobbin lace in the original camicia, but am not going to make them, as I want it to be almost white, and would not have time to make them. (I am toying with the idea to make later an as exact replica of it as possible, let’s see what will happen…) I will also make the neckline larger, if I want to wear it in an off-the-shoulder manner.

Week 2

Here is another photo of my camicia. There are about 13 meters to hem in total and I calculated it would take 21-22 hours to do it. Almost all of the hemming is done now, but I got a little bored and tried how the seams would look when whip stitched together and knot stitches sewed over the hem. In the pic you can see the hemming from the right and wrong side together with sewed and partly decorated short seam.

Week 3

Here is a detail of a sleeve of the camicia. The fullness of the sleeve have been gathered to the narrow wristband. Thought I have not made the larger embroidery for it, I decided to try embroidery for the wristband. In the photo of PoF4 it looks like smocking, thought it is not. I did not quite achieve that expression, but now I have an idea, how to do it next time (you know, for the camicia with all the embroidery and lace…) I made it only for the right side. I have made a little loops at each end of the wristband. A drawstring with tassels goes through them. Thought the original does not have them, I made also a buttonhole bars for the end of wrist opening of the sleeves. There are again knots over whip stitched seam.

During the last month I have finished the camicia, but I do not have a nice picture of it. I have been waiting for patterns for underpinnings and while waiting, started to knit socks or stockings of Eleanora de Toledo. I knew I would find something else to do than just the accessories planned beforehand, so left a couple of four spots free. Our Kingdom, Drachenwald, is going to have its 20th anniversary and Summer Coronation next week in Germany and I am going there, so I have had quite a lot to do for it, else than Renaissance stuff. After the party I will come back to the track and hopefully can show you something more than unfinished socks!
I started to study photos of said socks and thought I could have figured out from them how to knit them, as knitting have been one of my long time craft favourites. Then I found a ready pattern for it from Ravelry and as I had got needles and yarn for it ready, I have been knitting socks after it, making only a few adjustments (as it is quite impossible for me to do things exactly as said in patterns or instructions). The silken yarn and the needles are thin, so it has been slow, but it is handy to take the knitting with me everywhere and knit a stitch now and then. I’ll have a couple of trips planned and I suppose I will finish the socks during the trips.

June/July Update

Life has been so hectic and surprising lately, and I have been away from the computer. I have managed to take only a pic of my socks, or a sock. They are much slower to knit I had imagined, but little by little they are progressing. Underdress is still a pile of pieces of fabric and I have only hemmed its skirt a little. Next week I will go to a war event and get help to fitting the upper part. Then it should progress much faster.

Final Update


  • Camicia (Layer1)
  • Petticoat (Incomplete, layer 2)
  • Over-dress (Incomplete, layer 3)
  • Garters (Layer4)
  • Earrings (Layer 4)
  • Necklace (Layer 4)
  • Hose/Stockings (Incomplete, layer 4)

I made a petticoat from black wool and linen. My dummy Diana is modelling it from the back and myself from the front. After another fitting I had to fix back side a little, so it is not as it should be, but as it is my very first female Renaissance dress, I am quite happy with it anyway.



The overdress is made of dark red silk and black linen. There are things I would do differently next time, but part of the problem is that I had no opportunity to iron it before dressing in it. Anyway, I think I will use it gladly.

I am going to wear this dress in our Barony’s Investiture about three weeks from now. As this is my first Renaissance dress, I do not have other accessories than which I made to this challenge and that’s why I have not made my hair more period for the photos. I will have three busy weeks to sew a partlet, sleeves and make something for head to wear – and try to finish another sock.

Here are my finished garters. They are made from same silken thread as the stockings and I used sprang technique to make them. I am using our almost 2 meters long kitchen table, pieces of wood and clamps as loom and can make both garters at the same time. That way I do not have to the typical finishing at the middle of the work. So the garters are mirror images of each other and a couple of minor errors I managed to do there, are similar in the both of them.

They have found several garters from the period made using sprang and as far as I can tell from the photos of Eleonora’ s socks and garters, they look like they could have been made with that technique too. I have made several pairs of garters with sprang and use ones with my 14th century garb too. As they are much more stretchy than for example leather or tablet weaved garters, they are quite comfortable to use and do not block the blood circulation even after a long day.


I realized at some point that as knitting takes longer than expected, I would not have time to hand sew the partlet and pouch I had planned to do, so I made jewelry instead. I bead-worked pair of earrings and a necklace. In the pic there are two different earrings and finally I decided to do the one which is more like the necklace. You can see them in the final photo of me. 


So, in the end I finished 3 and half accessories: a pair of garters, a pair of earrings, a necklace and one sock. Yes, I never managed to finish another stocking, but I will!