The Third Annual Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge

April 14 to August 14,  2013

*These pages will be made available before the start of the IRCC on April 14, 2013, or as soon as needed thereafter.

The Challenge

Welcome to IRCC 3. This page is being put online seven months in advance to give everyone plenty of notice of two very important changes to the usual format/rules of the IRCC. They are:

1. Limitation of Layer 4 items/accessories. In the past two IRCCs the quantity of Layer 4 items wasn't limited but in future will be limited to 4 items only. A set of bracelets will be counted as 1 item, as will a set of earrings, a set of hairpins, a set of necklaces, set of Venetian shoulder and neck ruffs (if not attached to a partlet), a sewing kit. Anything else you wish to enter and are not sure if it will be counted as one item please e-mail me to ask in advance of registering for the Challenge.

2. Items of handwork that are labour intensive, for example: extensive embroidery on underwear linens (not counting insertion-stitch joining), making lace, weaving of anything larger than a garter/s, can be started  immediately. You will need to provide a photo/s of the complete or nearly complete, length of hand-made lace, or embroidered fabric, or woven textile, etc., before it is assembled, with your registration in March-April when registration begins. If you have any questions about what can be started in advance please e-mail me to ask.

Last year the second IRCC continued the celebration of The Realm of Venus' tenth anniversary on the wonderful world wide web in 2011. Tenth anniversaries only happen once, and so  IRCC was meant to be a one-off thing. Due to popular demand, however, I have made it an annual event for as long as the demand lasts. I am therefore once again issuing a challenge to dedicated historical costumers everywhere: to create a complete man's, woman's or child's late Italian Renaissance (circa 1480 - 1610) outfit of any social class from the skin out, including at least one accessory, over a period of four months. That's only one layer or accessory per month - you can do it!

The Details

Challenge Schedule

Now to March 14 2013: plan and acquire what you will need for your planned outfit, and begin work only on any extensive handwork items such as lace-making, extensive embroidery, weaving (of anything other than garters). 

March 15 to April 13 2013: register as an entrant in the IRCC3. You will need to provide me with the details listed below under the heading "How to Register". Continue with your items of extensive handwork, if any.

April 14 to August 14 2013: cut, stitch, assemble, and complete your outfit (see below for details). Don't forget to send a progress photo at least once per month according to the schedule listed in the 'Rules', below.

August 15 to 16 2013: photograph your outfit from the skin out and send me the photos and write-up. Please avoid the use of mobile phone or tablet computer cameras as the quality is not high. Do not date stamp your photos. Make sure your camera is set to take photos at its highest resolution. 

August 23 2013 (or sometime thereafter): Winner will be announced and Prize awarded.





Your outfit needs to be comprised of the following:

Layer 1: A camicia/shift/smock/shirt or drawers or corset/pair of bodies. I don't expect you to make all three, however one item MUST be an underwear layer.

Layer 2: Either an underskirt or under-dress/petticoat, or doublet and 'trunk-hose'/slops/breeches. 

Layer 3: The final layer will be either an over-dress, or a loose gown, or a cloak/cape. 

Layer 4: An accessory or accessories to a maximum number of 4 items/set of items, for example: a fan; pocket; pouch; hat, net or jewelled accessory for the hair; zibellino (also known as a "flea fur"); hanky; gloves; girdle or sash; shoes; partlet; a set of Venetian shoulder/neck ruffs (if they are separate from the partlet - if attached will be counted as one item with the partlet); standing ruff/collar; parasol; and muff.


All who take up the challenge will have their photos, a short bio, and a description of their proposed outfit listed here. 

How to Register

To enter, please send me an e-mail on or after March 14, 2013 and before April 15, 2013, with these details listed:

  • your name
  • your location (state - please note I am not from the United States and do not always recognise the abbreviations used for the state  - and country only)
  • a short (two to three sentence-length) bio, including whether you are either a novice to sewing or novice to Italian Renaissance costume (as defined below)
  • a short description of your proposed four-layer outfit
  • a photo/s of any extensive handwork begun prior to registration which you wish to include in your challenge outfit
  • your head/shoulders photo

Please note: if any of the above are not provided your registration will be invalid and most likely deleted. I am sorry to have to take such a hard line, but it will save me having to chase people up with reminders to send photos or the like.

All entrants will be required to send me individual progress photos (one per week maximum), along with photos of their outfits when  completed, which will be uploaded to this page so we can all follow along.  The final photo/s of the completed outfit need to be sent to me no later than August 16, 2013. The winners will (hopefully!) be announced on August 23 2013, the anniversary of the Realm of Venus.


The Rules


Rules? well, ok, I guess a challenge like this needs rules. So...

  1. All items must be started ON or AFTER April 15 2013, except in the case of items of extensive handwork, such as lace-making, extensive embroidery, weaving other than garters, etc., or one of the underwear items listed above. ONE item of underwear must be made from scratch within the competition period, along with the all the upper layers and one accessory.

  2. If you don't manage to finish all four required levels don't worry, you will still be in the running. However, those who attempt and or complete all four levels will end with more points than those who only attempt/complete one or two.

  3. This is a challenge for individuals, not groups, therefore only items sewn or assembled by the by the entrant with no help from anyone else will be accepted. However, help with pattern drafting, draping, and/or fitting is allowed. Use of commercial patterns is also allowed.

  4. Anyone may enter multiple outfits if they wish, however points will be allocated on a per-garment/item basis, not cumulatively.

  5. Progress photos must be sent: one every month minimum, one every week maximum, by these deadlines: May 14, June 14, July 14, and the final by August 16. This will help to keep you all motivated and enjoying the challenge! Photos of the completed outfit to be a minimum of three (front, back and side), or more if you wish.

  6. A written summation of your outfit must accompany the final photos and should itemise the complete and incomplete items you made/attempted. Please make sure that if you have not yet sent me a photo of any item with your progress updates, that you do so with the final photo submission.

  7. Points will be allocated as follows:

10 points for each layer completed.
10 points if EVERY layer is completed.
10 points for any extra layer/accessory (over and above the four required) completed.
5 points for any layer started/attempted but not completed.
The above points will be awarded to everyone who enters, according to the criteria.

Additionally, the points below will be allocated to the person who best meets the criteria:
10 points for each inclusion of HANDWORK other than sewing straight seams, ie: hand-made lace, buttons, embroidery, weaving, shoes, use of fur (real or faux) to create/line a garment or accessory.
10 points to the best attempt at historically accurate DESIGN
10 points to the best attempt at historically accurate CONSTRUCTION 
(This does NOT include textiles used - period-accurate and non-period textiles will be on an equal footing to allow for differing budgets).
10 points to the best attempt by a SEWING NOVICE 
(A novice for this purpose is someone with less than three years of sewing experience).
10 points to the best attempt by a NOVICE IN ITALIAN RENAISSANCE COSTUME 
(A novice for this purpose is someone who has attempted less than three
late Italian Renaissance (late 15th-16th century)  outfits prior to this challenge).

The OVERALL WINNER will be the person with the highest total points from ALL categories above. Other winners will be Best Design, Best Construction, Best Handwork, Best Novice: Sewing and Best Novice: Italian Renaissance

All entries will be evaluated by me, with the option of enlisting the help of volunteers should the number of entrants get unwieldy. 

Thank you All!

Bella Lucia da Verona
(Anabella Wake)
The Realm of Venus