The Fifth Annual Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge

April 1 to July 31,  2015

Anne Busby
Western Australia

Hi, this is my first attempt at Italian Renaissance. I have been in the SCA for about five years, but my costuming experience has been with English and generally in the medieval period.

The outfit I am looking at creating is inspired by this gown. I aim to create a camicia, under-gown with laced-in sleeves, loose over-gown. As accessories I will be making a caul and fan.

I will be doing blackwork edging for the sleeves and necking of the chemise, which I hope to start shortly.

April Update

I started with my camicia, intending to build the outfit from the inside out. I am also trying to use my stash as much as possible. I was lucky to find that I still had some handkerchief weight left from a previous project.

As for a pattern I used this image as a guide from this tutorial. The camicia was sewn together by machine and then the seams and hems where finished by hand.I did leave my gussets as squares. The neckline, while gathered, is yet to be completed as I hope to make a blackwork band for it.

I have also completed a trial gown using the bodice pattern I intend to use, and found in the couple of weeks since it was created, I have changed shape and I need to take the waist in two inches.

May Update

Blackwork for Camicia

I found a blackwork motif that I liked, I was looking for something that would be simple to do, but looked period. I tried out a couple of different ways of using it in a border and then broke down the design to series of steps to see if it could be done with double-running stitch or I need to a different stitch.


I have not done as much as would have liked, but I did get a start on the bodice and worked on the layout of the trim.

June Update

Unfortunately due to work and other commitments I did not get to do everything I planned to this month. Early in the month I went to a class on hem stitch and decided to make drawn-work handkerchief as an accessory. I'm currently still sewing the braid on my bodice of the underdress.

July Update


I added the skirt to my bodice. The skirt consists of 2 panels - 1 for the back of the bodice and a wider one for the front bodice. As the front of the bodice is shaped, the top of the front panel was shaped so it hangs straight. The skirt was hemmed with a train, and felt was added to the hem to
stiffen it.


I had a lot of problem with the puff sleeves and ended up making them without the braid. To make the puff I added a pleated rectangle to the top of the sleeve and finished the top of it with a band.


As the image I’m using for my inspiration for looks similar too to an Englished fitted gown, I used the pattern in the Tudor Tailor for my over-dress. It is trimmed with black velvet ribbon edged with gold thread couched down. The tabs on the shoulders are also trimmed with the velvet ribbon edged with couched gold thread.


Ribbon caul – this was made with by cutting a circle of fabric, interlaced the ribbon. It was done on a piece of cardboard so the ribbon could be pinned in place. Once all the ribbon was laid out. A grey pearl was sewn on to each intersection, though the ribbon and the backing fabric. The caul was then flat lined with another piece of fabric and then a band added to the edge.

Necklace – This was made by alternating white and pink beads with gold beads.


The blackwork that I intended to do for the band, did not happen so a plain band was added to the neckline. The cuffs were ‘gathered’ by adding pleats on the cuff narrowing it 2 inches from the end of the sleeve.

Final Update

(Scroll below for details)


My goal on entering this competition was to complete an Italian styled outfit and to use as much as possible fabric from my stash. I completed the following layers: chemise, under-dress and over-dress. I also completed a caul, necklace and drawn-thread work handkerchief. The fabric for the three layers came from my stash, and I bought the fabric for the caul and the braid and ribbons.

Layer 1: Camicia

The chemise came out a little large, so I need to make it smaller next time. Though the pleated cuffs are very comfortable, and I will be doing this technique again. While I like the look of the plain sleeves, I did intend to have braid on them to match the dress that was the inspiration.

Layer 2: Under-dress

The rolled pleats on the skirt help with getting the 3.5 metres of fabric in to the bodice and puff nicely and I will be using this method in the future.

Layer 3: Over-dress

The coat does not sit as nicely as I would like so I need to try and workout how to fix that.

Layer 4: Accessories

1. Caul and 2. Necklace

3. Handkerchief


Techniques that I had not tried before include the drawn-work on the handkerchief; pleated cuffs on the chemise; rolled pleats for the skirt on the underdress; couched gold on the overdress and the ribbon caul. It is also my first necklace.

Other than the hemming, and sewing on the trim and braid, the other handwork items are the handkerchief and the couching of the gold thread.

I had a lot of fun doing the challenge and learnt a lot, like puffed sleeves are very frustrating; I'm very optimistic with my time estimates and it is hard to stop what you are doing to take photos and notes. I have a new appreciation all those dress diaries on the web.

Thank you Bella, for running this competition again.