The Fourth Annual Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge

June 1 to September 30,  2014

*These pages will be available on May 1, 2014, or as soon as needed thereafter.

The Challenge

Welcome to IRCC 4. The Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge is a four-month long challenge to create a complete man's, woman's or child's late Italian Renaissance (circa 1480 - 1600) outfit (details below), of any social class, from the skin out, over a period of four months. This is to include at least one accessory, with a maximum of four accessories allowed.

Registration to enter opens on May 1, 2014, and will close 11:59PM May 31. The challenge will begin on June 1, 2014. (For more detail please see the 'Challenge Schedule' below under 'The Details')

Items of hand-work that are labour intensive can be started immediately. These may include, for example, extensive embroidery on trim destined for an outer layer, or on panels for underwear (not counting insertion-stitch joining), making lace, weaving of anything larger than a garter/s, making your own buttons in quantities, etc. No assembly of any part of any accessory or garment can be done before the beginning of the challenge. If you have any questions about what can be worked on in the months leading up to the challenge please e-mail me at the address at the bottom of this page. 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., with your registration when registration begins in May.

The Details

Challenge Schedule

Now to May 1, 2014: Plan And Buy. 
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). 

May 1, 2014 to May 31, 2014: Registration.
Register as an entrant in the IRCC3. You will need to provide me with the details listed below under the heading "How to Register", and a photo of any items of extensive hand-work completed in the period leading up to registration. Continue with your items of extensive handwork, if any.

June 1, 2014 to September 30, 2014: Let The Sewing Begin!
Cut, stitch, assemble, and complete your outfit (see below for details). Don't forget to send a progress photo and description of what you have been working on according to the schedule listed in the 'Rules', below. If a photo and description of progress you have made is not received by the scheduled date you will be eliminated from the challenge .

October 1 to 3, 2014: Final Update
Photograph your finished outfit from the skin out and send me the photos and write-up. I require (at least) the following photos:

  • Three full-length (do not crop out head or feet/hemline) of the front, back and side of the complete outfit worn on the body. (These MUST be sent during the photo submission period at the end).

  • Three full-length (do not crop out head or feet/hemline) of the front, back and side of both the under-wear alone, and main layer worn on the body over the underwear layer. If you would prefer to photograph the underwear layer on a mannequin that's fine too, so long as items can be clearly seen.

  • Detail shots of each accessory.

Please avoid the use of mobile phone or tablet computer cameras if at all possible, 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. I prefer photos submitted to be uncompressed, and a minimum of 1000 pixels wide. If I can't see your work, I can't evaluate it properly. Also, please be sure to address what has and hasn't been hand-sewn or hand-made in all your items in your progress reports and especially in the final write-up.

Please note: all dates given are for your time zone. So please follow the date on your calendar.

October 10, 2014 (or sometime thereafter): Winners Announcement
Winner will be announced via the 'Realm of Venus' Facebook Page and 'Costume and Culture in Late Renaissance Italy' Facebook Group.


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 under-skirt or under-dress/petticoat with sleeves, or doublet and 'trunk-hose'/slops/breeches, or jerkin/sleeveless doublet worn over another garment.

Layer 3: The final layer will be either an over-dress/gown, 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 register to enter, please send me an e-mail on or after May 1, 2014 and before May 31, 2014, with these details listed:

  • Your full legal name
  • Your location: state/province and country only. Please don't abbreviate your state's name.
  • A short (three to four sentences-length) bio/introduction, including whether you are either a novice to sewing or novice to Italian Renaissance costume (as defined in the rules, 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.
  • A CURRENT head and shoulders photo of yourself for inclusion in your page. Please do not send a photo of someone else wearing clothing you have made.  High resolution and big picture is good (I can crop and re-size!), but it must be at least of a high enough resolution to for us to clearly see you.

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.

The Rules


  1. All items must be started ON or AFTER June 1 2014, 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 layers, plus extra layers, along with extensive handwork 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. Your items should be designed to look good worn together as an outfit.

  5. Progress photos and progress report must be sent: one every month minimum, one every week maximum, by these deadlines: 
    June 30, July 31, August 31, and the final by October 3
    . This will help to keep you all motivated and enjoying the challenge! The final photos and progress report of the completed outfit should be (a) t
    hree full-length (do not crop out head or feet/hemline) of the front, back and side of the complete outfit worn on the body. (b) three full-length (do not crop out head or feet/hemline) of the front, back and side of both the under-wear alone, and main layer worn on the body over the underwear layer. If you would prefer to photograph the underwear layer on a mannequin that's fine too, so long as items can be clearly seen. (c) Detail shots of each accessory.

  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 additional points if EVERY layer has been 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