The Fifth Annual Italian Renaissance Costuming Challenge

April 1 to July 31,  2015

The Challenge

Welcome to IRCC 5. 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. This outfit needs to include at least one accessory, with a maximum of four accessories allowed.

Registration to enter the challenge will open on March 1 2015, and will close 11:59PM March 29. The challenge will begin on April 1, 2015. (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 March.

The Details

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

Now to February 28, 2015: Plan And Buy.
Plan your outfit layers and accessories. 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 1 to 29, 2015: Registration.
Register as an entrant in the IRCC5. 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 planning and buying for your outfit, and working on your items of extensive handwork.

April 1 to July 31, 2015: Let The Sewing Begin!
Cut, stitch, assemble, and complete your outfit (see below for details), and send regular monthly reports consisting of a written description and photos of what you have achieved that month.

Your outfit needs to be comprised of the following:

Layer 1: A camicia/shift/smock/shirt or drawers or corset/pair of bodies. One item of your outfit MUST be an underwear layer. NEW - from this year onwards I will also accept a partlet as an underwear layer, but in this case it cannot be counted as an accessory.

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.


Don't forget to send a progress photo and description of what you have been working on each month, according to the schedule listed in the 'Rules', below. An in-progress photo or photos of each and every item making up the four required layers MUST be sent to me: don't just send a photo of the completed item. NEW -  Also please do not just tell me you are still working on planning/buying for your outfit - this needs to be done prior to the Challenge start, and during the registration period, and does not count as progress. If a photo and description of progress you have made is not received by the scheduled date you will be eliminated from the challenge .

August 1 to 7, 2015: 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, including accessory, 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.

  • One artistic/freestyle photo in a location or setting that is in some way Italian Renaissance in style or feel. To see what I mean by this, click here. NEW

Final Photo and Report Requirements: 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 itemise your outfit pieces, note whether complete or incomplete, and 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.

August 14, 2015: Winners Announced.
Winner will be announced via the 'Realm of Venus' Facebook Page and 'Costume and Culture in Late Renaissance Italy' Facebook Group.

How to Register

To register to enter, please send me an e-mail on or after March 1, 2015 and before March 31, 2015, 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 (It's a good idea to know what you're intending to make before the challenge starts, so you can go ahead and begin extensive handwork and otherwise plan your entry, but you can change your mind later, should you need to)
  • 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 colour 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 April 1 2015, 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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Progress photos and a brief progress report must be sent once every month minimum, by these deadlines: 
    April 30, May 31, June 30, AND July 31.
    This will help to keep you all motivated and enjoying the challenge! 

    The final shots of the outfit must be sent by August 7
    NEW - This seven-day period is to enable you to take the final and artistic shots without feeling rushed to do so.  The photos  of the completed outfit should be: 
    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. 
    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. 
    One artistic/freestyle photo in a location or setting that is in some way Italian Renaissance in style or feel. To see an example of what I mean by this, click here.

  5. 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.

  6. Points will be allocated as follows:

Layer and Handwork Points:
10 points for each layer completed.
10 additional points if EVERY layer has been completed.
10 bonus points for any extra layer completed.
5 points for any layer started/attempted but not completed.
10 points for each inclusion of complex HANDWORK (that is, other than sewing straight seams or hemming, sewing on trim, etc..) This could include things like lengths of hand-made lace, buttons, embroidery, hand-done eyelets, weaving, hand-making shoes, etc.. If in doubt, email me at the address below.
The above points will be awarded to everyone who finishes, according to the criteria.

Other Points:  NEW  (20 points instead of 10)
Additionally, the points below will be allocated to the persons who best meet the criteria:
20 points for the best attempt by a SEWING NOVICE 
(A novice for this purpose is someone with less than three years of sewing experience).
20 points for 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).late Italian Renaissance (late 15th-16th century)  outfits prior to this challenge).
20 points for the best attempt at Hist. Acc. DESIGN (Colours/Fabric Choices/Patterns/Locale and Date Accuracy)
20 points for the best attempt at Hist. Acc. CONSTRUCTION (hand work, closures, pleating, padding, etc., but does not include textiles used: both period-available and not will be placed on an equal footing to allow for differing budgets).
20 points for the best artistic/freestyle PHOTO (from final photo submission, either standing or sitting). NEW 

The OVERALL WINNER will be the person with the highest total points from ALL categories above. NEW - In addition, I will choose winners for BEST HAIRSTYLE OR HEADWEAR, BEST ACCESSORY, BEST USE OF HANDWORK. However, these categories do not accrue points.

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